Alleged Socorro cult eyeing to establish private school — DepEd division
MANILA, Philippines — An allegedly religious cult accused of victimizing minors had been planning to establish its own private school, the Department of Education (DepEd) – Siargao Division said.
The Division’s Superintendent Karen Galanida on Tuesday shared that the non-governmental organization Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) in Socorro, Surigao del Norte verbally expressed an intent to have its school in the area.
“Mayroon po, Ma’am. Pero wala pa kaming nare-receive na any document from them signifying their application to establish a private school,” she stated over a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
(There is an intent, Ma’am. But we have not yet received any document from them signifying their application to establish a private school.)
“Only, there was verbal request, na asking the requirements. ‘Yun lang ‘yung hiningi nila,” she added.
(There was only a verbal request asking for the requirements. They just asked for that.)
According to her, it was SBSI Vice President Mamerto Galanida who told her about the group’s intent back in May 2023.
“May yun, kasi nagkita kami ng vice president [ng SBSI] sa Surigao City. Sinabi niya na they are intending to establish a school,” she recalled.
(It was in May when I met their vice president in Surigao City. He said that they intend to establish a school.)
She then referred them to the School Governance and Operations Division since that was the concerned department on the matter; however, they have not yet received anything from the group since May, aside from a request for assistance to enroll their children back in school.
“Mayroon kaming na-receive na letter galing sa (We received a letter from) SBSI, through again the vice president, last July 25, 2023. They are requesting for assistance, they are manifesting the intention for their children to enroll for the school year,” she noted.
“Ngayon lang sila nag-manifest ng intention to get back [to school],” Karen Galanida further said, sharing that the schooling among SBSI members had been interrupted since 2019 when they moved to the mountains.
(They only manifested the intention to go back to school now.)
She said that they already have enrollees in the DepEd from the group, but the desire to have their own school might have come from inconvenience and lack of accessibility.
“Yung enrollment nila ay doon sa mga nearby schools sa kanilang community. Siguro naman kasi, ang layo din doon. Kahit yung malalapit na schools, malayo pa rin,” Galanida asserted.
(Their enrollments are in the schools near their community. Maybe because they still live far away. Even the nearest schools are still far away for them.)
“Siguro, nagku-kumpleto pa sila ng mga requirements. As of this time, officially, wala pa talaga kaming anything that we can say about their proposed establishment,” she stated.
(Maybe they are still completing the requirements. As of this time, officially, we have not really received anything that we can say about their proposed establishment,)
According to Karen Galanida, the decision on whether or not the SBSI can have its own private school will come from the DepEd regional director.
In a message in a reporters’ group, DepEd further confirmed that no application for the SBSI’s school was filed in their regional office.
On the other hand, SBSI refused to grant an interview when asked about their plans to have their own private school.
“Hindi po muna kami papa-interview. Sa Senado na po,” SBSI Vice President Mamerto Galanida told INQUIRER.net over the phone.
(We are not granting interviews for now. Only in the Senate.)
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expressed her thoughts concerning SBSI’s plan, saying in a statement, “Pwede naman magtayo ang sinuman ng school basta sumunod sa tinakdang standards ng DepEd.”
(Anyone can establish a school as long as they are going to follow the standards set by the DepEd.)
“Pero ‘wag po natin ilihis ang usapan. Isa lang ang tanong: are children being systematically sexually and physically abused by SBSI?” she added.
(But let us not divert the topic. The only question is: are the children being systematically, sexually, and physically abused by SBSI?)
Hontiveros, the chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality, filed a resolution last Monday, September 19, seeking the investigation of SBSI’s alleged victimization of minors.