CIS teachers post bail on charges of reckless imprudence
Five teachers of the Cebu International School (CIS) will have to stand trial for the accidental drowning of two students during a 2012 field trip in Bataan.
Arrest warrants were issued by a judge in Balanga City, Bataan but the accused were able to post bail yesterday.
One of the victims, 13-year-old Kyle Gullas-Weckman, was the grandson of University of the Visayas owner and newspaper publisher Jose “Dodong” Gullas of the Freeman.
Charged with reckless imprudence resulting to homicide were Tyler Herbst, Susan Rigby, Ma. Socorro Laplana, Leah Joy Cabanban, and Geronimo Alguno.
In Camp Sotero Cabahug, PO3 Ray Alcazar told reporters that he and other police operatives were trying to locate the accused to serve the warrants.
Cebu Daily News learned later that bail of P30,000 each was paid by the accused before noon.
The court will next set a date for them to appear for arraignment, where they will enter a plea.
Judge Remigio Escalada Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 in Balanga, Bataan issued the arrest warrants in an order dated June 27, where he denied several motions of the accused.
Lawyers of the CIS teachers earlier asked for an independent judicial determination of probable cause, to withhold issuance of a warrant of arrrest, to cancel arraignment as well as to quash the information filed by the prosecutor’s office of Bataan.
The drowning victims included a Korean student Jae Hak “James” Jung. They were part of a batch of 42 Grade 8 students who went to Bataan for the school’s official Philippine Week Field Trip.
The deaths occurred on Sept. 12, 2012 in Tambangan waterfalls at a depth of about 20 feet where there were strong undercurrents.
Prosecutors said the teachers had deviated from the itinerary which was to go trekking, with no mention of swimming. The teachers who accompanied the students had local guides as they were unfamiliar with the waterfalls, which they visited for the first time.
The court noted that they did not bring any lifesaving equipment and that some of the teachers set an example for the students by jumping into the water fully clothed, and allowed and called out to students to jump and swim, fully clothed with their hiking shoes on.
The private school filed a petition for partial review on Jan. 8, 2013 with the Department of Justice but after more than five months, no resolution was made or brought to court.
The teachers said not all of them were aware of the mother’s instruction because they did not see the consent form and that Kyle had told a school official he was allowed to swim by his mother only that she had forgotten to tick the box in the consent form. They also emphasized that the drowning was an accident that nobody had wanted to happen.
Lawyer Celso Espinosa, lead counsel of the Gullas family, said he was happy that the wheels of justice have started moving.
“At least, there’s a progress in the case,” he told Cebu Daily News. He represents the complainant along with lawyers Teodoro Almase, Sylvia Almase-Suarez, and Melina Almase-Martinez .
CIS school superintendent Deidre Fischer was earlier charged but the DOJ found insufficient evidence to include her in the case.
The case was filed before the RTC in Balanga in Bataan last Dec. 21, 2012. With reports from Ador Vincent Mayol and Chito Aragon
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