Court stops closure order on 2 maritime school programsBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A Quezon City court has blocked the closure of two programs of the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) which the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) enforced late last year, noting that the body’s own policies do not allow closures in the middle of the year.
Judge Rosa Samson of Regional Trial Court Branch 105 issued the preliminary injunction in favor of the private school in an order dated Jan. 20.
She also ordered the PMI to post a P500,000 bond for damages the CHEd may suffer should the court finally decide that the school is not entitled to an injunction.
The school is protesting the closure of its two programs, BS Marine Transportation and BS Marine Engineering, which the CHEd said were substandard.
The programs had not satisfactorily complied with quality standards, said CHEd, adding that PMI was one of 15 schools deemed deficient in an independent audit of maritime courses last year.
The Quezon City court, however, said there is a need to stop the implementation of the order because of the damages it may and has caused to the PMI, its faculty and students.
Samson added that based on the testimony of a CHEd official, such closures should take effect at the end of the school year.
The CHEd said the European Union had asked the Philippines to address its deficiencies in the areas of maritime education and training institutions.
An official said failure to do so could remove the country from a “white list” of nations complying with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
Meanwhile, CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said the jobs of Filipino seafarers are now threatened because of the court ruling.
She said Executive Director Liberty T. Casco of the Maritime Training Council, an attached agency of the labor department, had been informed that a removal from the “White List” would threaten the P3 billion maritime industry and result in the loss of jobs and livelihood of Filipinos.
“The CHEd will immediately seek all legal remedies available in the higher courts through its statutory counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General,” Licuanan said. With a report from Niña Calleja