(Statement issued on August 16 by The International Committee in Support of Bautista, Abadilla, and Respicio c/o Nakem Conferences International)
RESPONSE TO THE PUBLIC APOLOGY OF REV. DR. BRIAN SHAH
In his public apology, the Rev. Brian Shah conveys that he had already apologized to the parents of Carl Andrew A. Abadilla, Kleinee Xieriz Bautista, and Samuel G. Respicio, the three students he unjustly and unduly excluded from the Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA) for violating its English-only policy.
While the apology may read sincere, it fell short of the more important aspect of a decent apology, i.e. the full recognition of all his misdeeds.
Firstly, Rev. Shah totally disregarded the school manual when he imposed exclusion on the 3 students for violating SCA’s English-only school policy the penalty of which calls for a mere reprimand according to the School Manual. That is gross abuse of discretion. For excluding the three students, Rev. Shah violated Sec. 135 of DepEd Order No. 88 s. 2010 which stipulates that “No disciplinary action shall be applied upon any pupil or student except for cause…AND after due process shall have been observed” and Sec. 136c which requires that “A summary investigation shall have been conducted.” Section 137 on Summary Proceedings stipulates that “Subject to compliance with the requirements of due process and school regulations the procedure for disciplinary action against a student shall be summary in nature. The student shall be assisted in the proceedings by his/her parent(s) and/or by counsel.” We believe Rev. Shah violated certain provisions of these sections of DO. No. 88 s. 2010.
Secondly, consider that Kleinee Bautista, one of the 3 students, recounted to Herdy La. Yumul, a reputable blogger, Ilocos Times columnist and professor at Mariano Marcos State University, that when Rev. Brian Shah confronted him (Bautista) on July 31, 2013, Shah was to have said in a raised voice: “You are not respecting my school!” Bautista then claims that Rev. Shah gestured as if he was going to smash his cell phone on the boy saying, “You want me to throw my cell phone at you, you bitch?” Whereupon, Shah advised Bautista to transfer out of Saviour’s Christian Academy effective July 31, 2013, ostensibly for violating the English-only school policy without giving the boy any other option or the benefit of due process. When the parents attempted to reach out to him, Rev. Shah refused to see them.
Thirdly, recall that the Rev. Brian Shah posted the following on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/osfi.acad) on July 30, 2013, a day before advising the students to transfer to another school effective July 31, 2013, for violating SCA’s English-only policy: “Insubordination and direct defiant (sic) among students is totally unacceptable and I don’t tolerate such nonsense. Tomorrow heads will roll. It took us many years to build the school to what it is today and just a few to destroy all our hard work.” For this reason, it is our contention that Rev. Shah’s actions against Kleinee Bautista on July 31, 2013 were premeditated.
Fourthly, Rev. Shah’s claims that the school policies of SCA, a part of which he knowingly violated, were crafted with the “best interests of our students in mind” and that their English-only policy is intended to make the students “competitive in the global village yet deeply grounded in and proud of the Motherland” are contradictory and a display of profound ignorance of the linguistic rights of students. We believe it would be in the best interest of students if their freedom of expression is fully protected, especially in schools where the medium of instruction is in English and where students’ “competitiveness in the global village”, we fear, may have been compromised at an early age.
Fifthly, that the issue has morphed into a war against “linguistic injustice and cultural disrespect” is an attempt at dilution and diversion. Rev. Shah must be told that the Ilocos Region is an exemplar of the Department of Education’s mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) efforts and good practices for good measure. It is supreme irony that he claims to carry out initiatives to support the poor, the oppressed and marginalized while institutionalizing marginalization and oppression right in his own backyard, on the grounds of Saviour’s Christian Academy.
Last but not least, given our growing awareness of ethnic diversity and the importance of our indigenous languages as a result of recent DepEd directives to institutionalize the use of the mother tongue or dominant local/regional language or L1 as medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3 and the use of L1 as auxiliary medium of instruction to English and Filipino as the primary MOI from Grade 4 all the way through high school, the fact that parents and students are still overwhelmingly interested in the acquisition of English language skills to enable students after they graduate or drop out of school to qualify for local jobs in the public and private sectors and also to enable them to qualify competitively for jobs in the global community is comment on just how durable the English language is in the Philippines rather than a rallying point for language restrictions, such as English-only school policies. Besides, the imposition of restrictive English-only policies with penalties being dangled over the heads of students for violating them has the deleterious, sometimes irreversible effect of sowing in the students’ psyche low esteem or disrespect for their own mother tongue, low esteem for themselves, and low, if any, regard for their indigenous cultural heritage.
Wherefore, we respectfully call on the Commission on Human Rights and other relevant agencies to investigate and determine if a criminal case is to be brought against the Rev. Brian Shah in light of the verbal abuse and intimidating gestures allegedly committed by him based on the accounts of Kleinee Bautista and for violating the linguistic rights of SCA students. In the event Rev. Shah is found culpable for violation of any provision of DepEd Order 88 s. 2010 and other pertinent laws and regulations, we hereby strongly recommend that the Rev. Brian Shah be ordered to immediately relinquish control of Saviour’s Christian School and transfer same to a more reasonable, level-headed and culturally sensitive administrator who is a firm believer in inclusive democracy and education.
The International Committee in Support of Bautista, Abadilla, and Respicio
c/o Nakem Conferences International
2540 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822
T. 808-366-9000, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 15, 2013 PST/August 16, 2013 PHLT