Court stops PSBA from closing QC campus
It should be “business as usual” today at the Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA) in Quezon City.
A local court on Thursday held off the scheduled closure of the PSBA-QC campus, issuing a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of a group of students who questioned a board decision to shut down the school on Oct. 18 due to mounting financial losses.
“After a careful evaluation of the allegations of the petition together with the evidence presented and the arguments raised by the parties during the summary hearing, the court finds that irreparable injury would be suffered by the petitioners if the closure of PSBA-QC will not be restrained before the matter of the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is heard,” said Judge Catherine Manodon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 104.
Manodon acted on the petition filed Wednesday last week by students Mary Plet Paguio, Charlene Zape and Patrick Lloret, who said they did it on behalf of over 4,000 students who would be affected by the closure in the middle of the school year.
The petitioners invoked their right to be allowed to complete their courses in the school where they are enrolled. They also asked that the students be compensated to the tune of P1 million for the “mental anguish, sleepless nights, stress, serious social humiliation, inconvenience and demoralization” caused by the board’s Sept. 20 notice of closure.
CHEd among respondents
The petition named as respondents PSBA Inc. stockholders Juan Lim, Ramon Peralta and Antonio Magtalas; Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chair Patricia Licuanan and CHEd National Capital Region Director Catherine Castañeda.
The students argued that they had “the proprietary right to continue their course up to graduation,” which would be violated if the school closes down now.
The petition was filed following mass actions held by stu dents and some school officials and faculty members on the campus on Aurora Boulevard, Barangay Loyola Heights. PSBA-QC was established in June 1981.
Manodon issued the TRO a day after the court held a summary hearing, during which PSBA’s lawyer Bayani Agabin maintained there was no factual and legal basis for the court to give such an order.
Agabin said the Supreme Court (SC) ruling cited by the petitioners to invoke the right to complete their courses was “misplaced” because PSBA-QC “is not denying (them) enrollment but is closing.”
The lawyer cited another Supreme Court decision—in the case of Capitol Medical Center vs Court of Appeals—where the high court ruled that “students have no legal right to compel a corporation to continue in business.”
Agabin also noted that the SC had consistently ruled that no court or law could compel anyone to continue in business regardless of the reason.
He also opposed the students’ claim for damages, saying it could not be justified by the “mere inconveniences” suffered as a result of the closure. Agabin also questioned the petitioners’ capacity to represent their peers.
Gregorio Bonifacio, another lawyer representing Peralta, Lim and Magtalas, also argued: “The right to operate a school includes the right to close it for any valid reason.”
Bonifacio also said the students were well aware of the dispute within the PSBA’s board of directors, particularly between his clients and PSBA-QC President Benjamin Paulino.
He said the majority of the board members had decided to close the school due to financial losses for the past eight years and also “because of the illegal operation” of the QC campus by Paulino, who claimed that he remains president of the school, a title now used by Peralta.
In the Sept. 20 notice of closure, the board also claimed that the school was being operated by Paulino “without an independent permit from CHEd and without authority from PSBA Inc.–QC, who is the grantee of recognition by CHEd.”
It said the decision was reached on a unanimous vote by the board of directors and the stockholders owning and representing at least 98.99 percent of the outstanding capital stock of PSBA-QC.
The notice also gave PSBA-QC students the option to transfer to a sister campus in Manila.
Manodon issued a 20-day TRO, stopping the respondents from implementing the notice of closure today.
The judge also ordered the petitioners to post a bond of P200,000, and set the hearing on their petition for a writ of preliminary injunction on Oct. 24.
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