PHSA decries ‘unfair’ generalization that it is a ‘haven of abuse’

Published July 6, 2022, 12:05 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) maintained that it remains committed to providing and creating a “safe learning environment” for its students amid complaints of abuse by some of its alumni.

(Courtesy of PHSA FB page)

PHSA, in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, July 6 (dated July 5), addressed the articles recently released on social media wherein some of its alumni spoke about abuses they experienced while they were still students.

“The PHSA management sympathizes with our alumni who complained of past abuses,” the school said.

An attached agency of the Department of Education (DepEd), the PHSA is a government-run secondary school that implements a special curriculum in the arts.

Located in Mt. Makiling, PHSA is a boarding school that offers a full scholarship.

Following the allegations of abuse, PHSA noted that many of its alumni, teachers, and staff — some of whom have worked at the PHSA for more than 20 years — felt that the “sweeping generalization” as shown in the articles portraying the PHSA as a haven for abuse, is “unfair.”

“PHSA, just like any other institution, is not perfect,” the school said. “But please be assured all our School personnel are working hand in hand towards providing our students a safe learning environment, whether online or in Makiling,” it added.

While the complainants have been informed, through their representatives, to file complaints with the proper forum, PHSA said that the complainants are “welcome to file their complaints with the School’s designated committees.”

Safe spaces

Despite the pandemic which lasted for over two years, PHSA expressed confidence that it was able to deliver “quality education” in the safety and comfort of their students’ homes.

Once face-to-face or blended learning resumes in August or September, PHSA assured its students that they will continue with their education “while being safe here in Makiling.”

PHSA noted that while it has produced world-class artists, educators, and cultural leaders in the last 45 years, the PHSA management continues to strive to “further improve measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”

Before the pandemic, PHSA said that it had implemented “strict curfew hours.” When in-house classes begin, the school said that it will continue to monitor and disallow rehearsals and group activities after curfew hours.

PHSA also noted that its Student Services has been at the forefront of providing psycho-social interventions upon the request of students and their parents.

“They all the monitor and address, on a daily basis, students’ connectivity and communication problems,” the school said. “They also conduct house visitations of Luzon-based students during the pandemic,” it added.

Aside from the conduct of educational drives on updates on the law, in particular for its employees about developments in the Safe Spaces Act, relevant laws, and rules, PHSA noted that Covid package kits were also sent to students’ families affected by the virus.

With students’ welfare in mind, PHSA continuously reminds its teachers to use child-friendly material as a reference in productions and final artistic output with panel critiquing sessions held to ensure the content and quality of the students’ works.

Prioritizing students’ safety

As an attached agency of DepEd, PHSA noted that it has to comply with the government rules and regulations when it comes to addressing complaints.

However, PHSA assured that in dealing with disciplinary matters, it has its “own processes” which have been duly recognized by the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Human Rights, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the DepEd.

Despite allegations of abuse, the PHSA Management assured its students and their parents that its teaching and non-teaching personnel are ready to “give you support and give a listening ear to your concerns.”

PHSA also assured that it closely coordinates with parents to ensure the students’ “safety and well-being.”

Meanwhile, DepEd has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.