MANILA, Philippines?With just a day to go before the opening of classes, new and returning students of a public elementary school in Project 4, Quezon City, have yet to formally enroll for the school year.
This was after Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. ordered the Belarmino Elementary School (BES) in Barangay Milagrosa torn down to give way to the construction of a new sports complex.
On Friday, several BES students and their parents staged a noise barrage in front of the soon-to-be demolished school where they criticized Belmonte and Dr. Victoria Fuentes, the schools division superintendent of Quezon City.
?We need a school, not a sports complex,? the protesters said.
Sherilyn Gastador, 11, said city government and education officials did not hold consultations regarding the plan to close down the school.
Gastador, an incoming Grade 6 pupil, said they were surprised when their teachers told them to enroll at the nearby Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School (PVKES) as Belmonte had already ordered the demolition of BES.
Liezl Mangoanit, 33, said they could not understand why Fuentes did not oppose Belmonte?s order ?when she knew that (PVKES) already has a lot of students.?
Mangoanit, the treasurer of the Parents-Teachers Association at BES, said even the teachers were against the school?s closure.
?If Mayor Belmonte was really after the interests of the students, he should have consulted the PTA,? she argued.
Mangoanit said that she and the other PTA officers have started listing down the names of students who still want to enroll at BES, hoping that Belmonte would reconsider his order.
According to her, since June 1, a total of 478 students have had their names included in their list. More than 600 students attend classes at BES every year, she said.
Fuentes, however, claimed that the majority of the students from BES had already enrolled at PVKES.
In an earlier interview, Belmonte said he ordered the BES? closure due to the continuous decrease in enrollees in the last five years. He also said the school facilities were not conducive to learning.
According to the mayor, PVKES has several unoccupied rooms which the transferees can readily use.
Fuentes, meanwhile, said the proposed sports complex would be more useful to students of Quezon City.
?Right now, most of our students hold their physical education classes and other activities in the streets. It will be better if we can have a venue where we can ensure their safety,? she said.