DepEd: Criminal charges vs school official who burned students' bags

ALBAY, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd)  in Bicol said it will ask the Department of Social Welfare and Development to file criminal charges against Bicol Central Academy (BCA) school administrator Alexander James Jaucian for violation of the Child Protection Policy. 

Viral photos posted on social media showed Jaucian allegedly ordering that the bags of students be burned after they failed to comply with the "no-bag" policy for a school event.

DepEd Bicol Director Gilbert Sadsad told Rappler that they will also ask the board of directors of BCA in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, to remove Jaucian from the school.

"We will ask the board of directors of Bicol Central Academy to remove him (Alexander James Jaucian) from the school management. [We will also ask] the Department of Social Welfare Development to file criminal charges, and the Bureau of Fire Protection in Libmanan to investigate it for possible arson case," Sadsad said.

He said Jaucian's action was completely unacceptable, and that it caused fear and trauma among the affected students in grade 11.

Sadsad personally visited the BCA together with guidance counselors in Camarines Sur to conduct stress debriefing among the affected students. 

When asked about the condition of the students, Sadsad said some students he talked to and those interviewed by guidance counselors were angry and expressed hatred against Jaucian's action.

Jaucian was not present when Sadsad visited the school, as he was in Manila to report and explain his action before the Bicol Central Academy's board of directors, but Jaucian promised to be present during the second day of the investigation on August 22.

The school was also closed on Monday due to a holiday that was declared even before the incident occurred, but the school will hold a makeup class on Friday, August 24.

Admission

Sadsad said that even before his visit, Jaucian already called him up to explain his side and narrate what really transpired on Friday, August 17.

Sadsad recalled that Jaucian admitted that he ordered their utility man to gather the bags of the grade 11 students and set them on fire for not following the "no-bag" policy. 

Jaucian said senior high school (SHS) students were instructed on Friday not to bring backpacks, as they would be wearing business attire for Tatsumaki Day, a day when students act as student-teachers to grade school students. 

Jaucian told Sadsad that the utility man was able to gather at least 25 to 30 bags and torched them. According to Sadsad, Jaucian promised to pay the students.

Some of the 15 students who came during the stress debriefing on Monday told DepEd officials that there were laptops, cellular phones, pocket wifi and P2,500 cash inside their burned bags.

Possible sanctions

Asked for possible sanctions against the BCA, Sadsad said they're looking into the possibility of revoking only the school's SHS permit, so as not to turn all students into collateral damage should DepEd revoke the school's license and permit.

The BCA has been operating for more than 70 years with good standing. But Sadsad said if a prima facie case has been established in their investigation for violation of the Child Protection Policy, they will file criminal charges which are tantamount to the revocation of the school's permit.

Similarly, the BCA may no longer be qualified or eligible to be part of the Government's Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education, or DepEd's SHS voucher program.

Based on DepEd Bicol's record, the BCA is a recipient of the GASTPE program. In fact, in Camarines Sur, the school received the highest allocation from government for school year 2017-2018: P5,936,000 for the SHS voucher program. 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones directed Sadsad on Monday to check Jaucian's accountability for the incident. She also said Jaucian should go on leave. – Rappler.com