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Another witness prepared to provide evidence on extortion claims at DepEd

Another witness prepared to provide evidence on extortion claims at DepEd

In a recent report by Palawan News on March 9, a teacher, referred to as Teacher X, has bravely come forward with claims of extortion within the Schools Division Office in Palawan. This unsettling revelation involves teachers who are either seeking transfers or applying for new positions within the Department of Education (DepEd).

Teacher X, preferring to remain anonymous, disclosed that a staff member of DepEd demanded a ₱50,000 “gift” to be given to an unidentified high-ranking official, only referred to as “ma’am,” for a job application she was pursuing.

This case emerges as the regional DepEd office is already investigating the claims made by Rhodora Aboratigue, another teacher who accused Jister Jude Lunado, a provincial DepEd employee, of soliciting ₱30,000 from her for a transfer to Dumaran. Teacher X identified Lunado as the individual who also asked for money from her for a similar reason.

Teacher X recounted how Lunado, the Gender and Development coordinator for SDO Palawan, initially contacted her, making her believe assistance was genuinely being offered. The request for a monetary “gift” came as a shock to her.

Upon learning about Aboratigue’s situation, Teacher X confronted Lunado and demanded her money back, which she says was eventually returned through an e-wallet service. Despite this, she remains unaware of who “ma’am” refers to in their exchanges.

Teacher X expressed her frustration with the corrupt system that preys on applicants like her, emphasizing that many teachers have succumbed to this extortion out of fear of being blacklisted by DepEd Palawan. Despite the return of her money, she considers the ordeal a waste of effort and resources but is ready to testify in a formal investigation.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has summoned Lunado and Dr. Elsie Barrios, Palawan Schools Division Superintendent, to discuss these matters further.

Cherrylou Repia, assistant regional director for DepEd Mimaropa, commented on the frequent teacher transfers in Palawan, attributing them to the province’s vast size. An audit initiated in August 2023 aimed to identify schools with surplus teachers and streamline the transfer process, aligning with DepEd Order No. 22, Series of 2013, which prioritizes transfers based on pupil/student-teacher ratios.

The regional office is also working on reducing paperwork congestion in SDO Palawan through the introduction of automated machines, highlighting ongoing efforts to improve the system amidst these allegations.

This incident sheds light on the challenges teachers face in securing positions and transfers within the DepEd system, calling for transparency and accountability to protect educators’ rights and ensure a fair and just educational environment.

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