By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has called on student groups to stop sensationalizing the death of a criminology student from Capiz State University (CapSU) “to push their political agenda.”
“The Commission calls on Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), Anakbayan UP Diliman, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and all other groups to stop using the incident for propaganda purposes as it is “insensitive and an insult to the family of the victim,” CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said on Wednesday.
SPARK released a statement saying that CHED, as well as the university, were partly responsible for Cristelyn Villance’s death due to the Commission’s insistence on the implementation of blended learning amid the pandemic.
Villance, a second-year criminology student, died in a motorcycle road crash last week while looking for a computer shop to submit a school requirement. His father, who was driving the vehicle, also sustained minor injuries in the accident.
“Beyond the clear tragedy of Villance’s life being claimed by a motorcycle accident, it immediately becomes clear that none of this would have happened had online classes been suspended and mass promotion been implemented,” the group argued.
The CHED and CapSU have denied that the mishap was caused by the urgent need to submit an online requirement. De Vera called the group’s claims as “distorted and unfounded.”
Citing reports from CapSU President Editha Alfon, De Vera explained that there are only two subjects in the BS Criminology program where teachers required online submission of requirements for those with internet access.
“In consideration of those students who have no ready access to the internet, the teachers gave them the option to submit or comply by any other means deemed feasible,” he added.
According to De Vera, based on records of the concerned teachers, Villance was able to pass all the requirements of her subjects through online submission last April 27 and April 29, before the incident occurred on May 14.
“She could not have been looking for an internet connection to submit her requirements for her course because she had already completed all requirements two weeks before the accident,” De Vera said.
“I do not know where these student groups get their information, or whether they actually verify stories they hear, but it is irresponsible to issue unfounded statements especially because this involves the untimely death of a student,” he added.
Several youth and student groups have been urging the Commission to suspend online classes nationwide since the enhanced community quarantine was imposed which mandates the closing of schools due to the coronavirus disease outbreak.
But according to CHED, which directed universities to implement flexible learning, this new mode is not equivalent to online learning alone but also employs other methods to deliver lessons to students without internet connectivity such as take-home activities and learning packets to be submitted upon the lifting of the quarantine.