03-31-2020. On March 28, 2020, the College Management noted of a post on social media regarding students who are still stranded in Bontoc and are apparently seeking assistance. In view of this, the College President instructed the MIS to repost and disseminate an announcement in all its social media accounts and through text messages, as a last-ditch effort advising all students who are stranded in Bontoc to coordinate with the College through its emergency hotline number. Following this, the College recorded a total of 76 stranded students.
Today, Dr. Rexton F. Chakas, MPSPC President convened the College Crisis Management Team for a meeting to tackle and provide a solution to this latest development. The College Management decided that thirty-three (33) of these students will be ferried home today to Barlig, Bauko, Sadanga through the vehicles provided by their respective municipal LGUs. The College ensured that this planned intervention conform to the ECQ and lockdown requirements. The Administration sought an approval from the Office of the Governor and the Office of the PNP Provincial Director. Additionally, the students were required to obtain a health declaration form from the Municipal Health Office of Bontoc and to have with them their school ID during the intervening period. To further avoid inconvenience through the process of transporting these students considering the strict regulations on the ECQ, the Crisis Management Committee implemented the plans with appropriate documentation and proper coordination.
Meanwhile, the remaining students will not be ferried home for the following reasons: First, these students come from places outside Mountain Province like Abra, Cervantes, Kalinga, Benguet, Quirino, Pangasinan, and Solano which are covered by strict orders on the observation of ECQ and lockdown that are beyond the control of the Province. Second, the other municipal LGUs decided not to provide vehicles because of the small number of students to be fetched and ferried and the limited vehicles that the LGUs are utilizing to monitor their own operations in their respective jurisdictions. Incidentally though, some of these students will be ferried home by College officials who happen to be reporting as part of the skeletal force and who are currently in Bontoc today.
In view of the aforementioned reasons that hindered MPSPC in addressing the situation of other stranded students, the College will endorse the remaining students to the Bontoc LGU, through the MSWD Office for assistance which includes the provision of food packs and goods to these students.
Yet, despite this recent intervention, some students sent last-minute text messages to the College emergency hotline stating their decision to remain in Bontoc, which is contrary to their clamor for assistance to be transported home. Evidence of these text messages are documented by Ms. Carolyne Dale Castaňeda, MPSPC’s Events Management Coordinator. For instance, 6 students from Bauko sent confirmation that they will go home, however, only 2 students arrived. Accordingly, the students’ houses were situated in far-flung areas that require them to walk from the point which is accessible by transportation so they decided to stay. This situation further validates the assumption that some students do not really want to go home to their places despite the College’s incessant initiatives, and this is beyond the management’s control. Overall, a total of 18 out of 33 students were transported to their respective municipalities today.
To clarify the persistent grievance of some authorities enforcing the CoVid-19 regulations and orders on why some students are still stranded in Bontoc, the College articulates its stand on this issue: First, MPSPC acted on the crisis that affected students with appropriate interventions, particularly through the provision of College vehicles that transported them to their respective municipalities on March 19-20, 2020. This initiative was disseminated through the College’s social media accounts and text messaging scheme. However, because of students’ lack of access to internet connectivity, they were not promptly informed of these interventions. Second, the College has no accurate knowledge of, but mere assumptions about students’ decision to stay in Bontoc. The Management assumes that these students were just relying on a 2-week suspension of classes and they were caught off-guard with subsequent orders from CHED and other agencies enhancing the rigidity of the quarantine and to further last until April 14, 2020. Based also on interviews with the stranded students, they disclosed varying reasons, recurrent of which are the following: (a) some of them were not in good physical state to travel home and stayed in Bontoc for self-quarantine; (b) some were complying to their academic requirements because accordingly, they do not have internet access in their respective municipalities; and (c) they simply did not want to go home for personal reasons.
Throughout the process of addressing the crisis that affected the students of MPSPC, the Administration expresses its gratitude to Hon. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr., PCOL Homer Penecilla, Hon. Franklin C. Odsey, and Hon. Joshua Fronda. The College also expresses its sincere gratitude to the municipal mayors who promptly responded to the request for vehicles that transported MPSPC students to their respective municipalities on March 19-20, 2020, namely Hon. Clark Ngaya of Barlig, Hon. Jose Agagon of Natonin, Hon. James Pooten of Sagada, Hon. Constito Masweng of Tadian, Mountain Province and Hon. Atty. Frenzel Ayong of Mankayan, Benguet. The same gratitude is also extended to Hon. Abraham Akilit of Bauko and Hon. Gabino Ganggangan of Sadanga, and Hon. Clark Ngaya of Barlig for the provision of vehicles that transported the student to their hometowns today. Special gratitude also goes to Hon. Benedict Odsey II, member of MPSPC Board of Trustees for his assistance throughout the process.