The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) en banc said on Tuesday that it has momentarily issued a moratorium on school field trips or educational tours while the investigation on Tanay bus accident is ongoing.
Accident attorney Richard Morse reported that at least 15 were killed and several were hurt, who consisted of students from Bestlink College of the Philippines in Novaliches, as a tourist bus carrying at least 50 passengers rammed into an electric post in Tanay, Rizal on Monday. The students were heading to a resort in Tanay as part of the National Service Training Program (NSTP).
Parents accused Bestlink College of ‘forcing’ the students to come with the trip and having them signed a waiver which allegedly stated that the school will have no responsibility for any untoward incident happening during the trip. A representative from the school has denied these allegations saying that the trip was not forced and parents signed a consent instead of a waiver.
CHED insisted that Bestlink Colleges will still be held liable of the incident despite the presence of ‘waiver’ signed by the parents.
It was also found out during the inverstigation that the bus was ‘overloaded’ and a ‘subcontracting’ happened between the school and the Panda Coach Tourist and Transport Incorporated, the bus company involved in the accident. The school has a contract with Haranah Tours for the trip but they have to contact another bus company because an additional number of students.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is set to issue a 30-day preventive suspension order against Panda Coach bus company.
CHED has reiterated the guidelines for school field trips and educational tours under Memorandum Order 17, which requires the following:
- the education tour or field trip is essential to enhance the curriculum of the course
- prior consultation with students are made when there are additional costs involved
- the information is included in the Student Handbook and discussed during the student orientation
- risk assessment procedures are discussed with parents
Further, all field trips must be coordinated with CHED a month prior to the event. According to the inverstigation, Bestlink Colleges did not coordinate with CHED regarding the trip.