Donations pour in for displaced school kids
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Parents and teachers have started repair work in a school compound in Bayambang town, Pangasinan province, amid controversy over a land swap deal between a businessman and the municipal government.
The businessman, William Chua, threatened to have the deal canceled when the municipal government failed to turn over a 3.1-hectare property occupied by Bayambang Central School (BCS) in exchange for Chua’s 2-ha property. The deal has resulted in the dislocation of students and teachers.
Community leaders and business groups rallying behind the students and teachers have donated armchairs, tables and school supplies for BCS.
In a statement, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) president Rosendo So said the BCS property was worth P522 million while Chua’s land where the pupils were temporarily holding classes was bought for P150,000.
“How can you swap that with the BCS property that is worth over half a million?” So said. “Obviously, the land swap deal is grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
Once Congress resumes session this month, the Abono party-list group will file a joint resolution with Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie Arenas to investigate the exchange of properties, he said. “If that deal pushes through, that is plunder,” he stressed.
In a show of community support to BCS, Sinag donated P400,000 while former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco gave P1 million for the repair and rehabilitation of the school. Sen. Cynthia Villar gave 200 chairs.
Among the business groups and agricultural associations that have donated armchairs, tables and chairs are the association of Bulacan hog farmers, Pigrolac Feeds, National Federation of Hog Farmers and Abono.
Filipinas Alcantara, president of BCS Parents-Teachers Association, said more than 2,000 students had been affected by the school’s transfer. Five of 20 classrooms have been repaired and parents hoped to complete the repair of all classrooms by Nov. 7, she said.
On Thursday, another group of parents and residents held a rally to express their support for the school’s transfer. Reports from Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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