DepEd-7 to probe Bantayan incident involving students

Published December 1, 2020, 1:18 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY—The Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd 7) will conduct its own investigation in relation to last Saturday’s controversial tourism activity in Madridejos town on Bantayan Island, northern Cebu.

DepEd 7 regional director Salustiano Jimenez said a fact-finding team will be sent to Bantayan to check reports that students wearing their uniforms attended the event.

The event, one of the stops of Cebu province’s tourism project Suroy Suroy Sugbo, became controversial after a huge crowd came to watch in an apparent violation of the physical distancing protocol that authorities have set to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduard Año has already ordered an investigation into the mass gathering.

The activity was graced by various government officials such as presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, and Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino.

Roque spoke before the crowd and noticed that physical distancing was not observed. He, however, said it was just fine that there was a huge crowd since the event was held in an open-air area and the spectators had their face masks on.

Jimenez said he too saw the photos that have become viral on social media showing a huge crowd gathering at Kota Park.

Some photos showed children in school uniform.

“We will check if school children were really there and what were there reasons why they went there. We will also check with the parents to find out why their children were there when there is an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) protocol against it,” said Jimenez.

“It has to be checked because some may say that those were photos of previous events,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez said DepEd 7 will investigate why there were children in school uniforms when the IATF has yet to approve face-to-face classes.

School officials are required to seek approval from the IATF if there are planned activities, said Jimenez.