THE EDUCATION department on Tuesday said it has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own probe on the alleged sexual abuse and harassment of students at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA).
In a statement, the department said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte requested the NBI to provide a comprehensive report on the issue as soon as possible.
“The Department would like to reiterate that the agency does not tolerate abuses in any form,” it said.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told reporters in a Viber message on Tuesday that he will direct the NBI to prioritize the investigation of the PHSA.
The Department of Education (DepEd), meanwhile, said it is doing its own investigation through its Child Protection Unit and Child Rights in Education Desk.
Allegations of various forms of abuses at the specialized school for budding artists were reported in an in-depth feature article published by VICE World News, which included testimonies from alumni who detailed their own experiences.
DepED noted that it is also working with the PHSA, located in Los Baños, Laguna, in reviewing existing campus policies to ensure the safety of students.
The school’s management said in an earlier statement that they sympathized with the alumni who reported the abuses and advised them to file formal legal complaints in court and/or to the school’s committee on decorum and investigation.
The state-owned institution called VICE‘s portrayal “unfair” and denied accusations that it is a “haven for abuse.”
Last week, advocacy group Child Rights Network urged the Philippine government to act on the reported abuse in PHSA, adding it was “enabling the continuation of these horrid abuses.”
“The reported crimes against children are crimes of power, with power relations between teachers and house parents in the boarding school tilted against their victims,” the group said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez