Online petition: Kick Ilocos school president out of PH
MANILA, Philippines – A Hawaii-based cultural advocacy group wants the president of Saviour's Christian Academy (SCA) in Laoag City – who expelled 3 students for speaking Ilocano on campus – to leave not only his post but also the Philippines.
Nakem International, in an online petition at change.org, called on the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Affairs to ask SCA president Reverend Brian Shah, a Singaporean, to leave the country immediately.
"We...are appalled by the injustice perpetrated by Reverend Dr Brian Shah against three Ilokano students of Saviour’s Christian Academy in Laoag City, The Philippines," the petition stated.
The 10-paragraph-long petition filed on August 7 support "the students, the need to preserve and promote the languages of the Philippines, and the institution of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) in the country."
The petitioners called Shah a "person of the cloth" who "does not understand the historicality of the Savior he believes in, the Savior who valued his people’s language, the Savior who spoke in the language of his people."
His action was discriminatory and a violation of basic rights, and his practice "demeans not only individuals but communities as well," they said.
As of posting, the petition has gained 169 supporters.
In an August 8 update, the petitioners said they have written a request for the Commission on Human Rights to fully investigate the expulsion of the students.
The SCA administration earlier denied they expelled the students, saying they only advised them to transfer to another school.
Questions for Shah
"Your act of 'advising' these students to look for another school is expulsion. Let us not go around the bush," wrote Aurelio Agcaoili and Raymund Liongson in a separate open letter to Shah.
Agcaoili is the president of Nakem International and according to The Ilocos Times columnist Herdy Yumul, has organized an international committee in support of Kleinee Bautista, Carl Abadilla, and Samuel Respicio.
In the 3-page letter, they quoted the school's mission statement, and from this, asked 3 questions they want Shah to answer in another open letter.
They also questioned his ownership of the school, adding the Philippines has laws "that define ownership of anything owned by foreigners."
Shah, and his wife May – the school administrator – are Singaporean nationals.
Earlier, SCA legal counsel Jaime Agtang told Rappler the English-speaking policy has nothing to do with the nationality of the Shahs and is only a coincidence.
Yumul, who wrote the initial blog post about the incident, said aside from media, other groups have been contacting him to reach out to the students.
A staff of Kabataan Rep Terry Ridon contacted him on Tuesday, August 6. The youth party-list organization, he said, plans to file a House resolution this week for an investigation into the incident.
Social workers from Design for Change have also offered to come to Laoag during the weekend to help the students through counseling.
But he was no longer sure if the families will still file an official complaint against the school.
"The parents of Carl and Kleinee came to me yesterday. They feel stressed out with the media attention they are getting, and decided not to talk to the media anymore," Yumul told Rappler on Thursday, August 8.
Abadilla's mother, who works for the Branch 13 of Ilocos Norte Regional Trial Court, was supposed to file an official complaint Thursday. – Rappler.com