|Acerbic tongued Provincial Board member Ranjit Shahani|
|Champion of the masses mayor Hernani Braganza of Alaminos City|
Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza today vowed to pursue his mission of providing quality and affordable college education to the youths of Pangasinan despite attempts of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to stop him from doing so due to the complaint of a private school owner.
Braganza maintained that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pangasinan has no jurisdiction over an administrative case filed against him by PASS College President Ruben Morante as a result of the operation of the Pangasinan State University’s campus in Alaminos City.
The provincial board ordered an investigation of Braganza based on Morante’s allegation that the establishment and operation of the PSU-Alaminos, a joint project of the city government of Alaminos and the PSU, is illegal.
The PSU-Alaminos Campus which has enrolled hundreds of poor students who cannot afford to study in the very few but mostly commercialized private colleges in the city started operation in 2010 as part of Braganza’s crusade to provide quality and affordable college education to the youths of Alaminos and nearby towns.
Braganza’s counsel, Efren Moncupa, has asked the Sangguniang Panlalwigan to stop the disciplinary proceedings against the Alaminos mayor since it has no jurisdiction over the case.
In a Motion To Dismiss pleading, Moncupa cited Section 61 (a) of the Local Government Code which provides that “A complaint against any elective official of a province, a highly urbanized city, an independent component city or component city shall be filed before the Office of the President (OP).”
Alaminos is a component city since 2001 and only the OP has jurisdiction over its elected officials.
“The law and the rules hardly need any interpretation or clarification. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has disciplinary authority only over elected municipal officials,” Moncupa asserted, citing Section 61 (b) and (c) of the Local Government Code.
“By taking cognizance of this administrative complaint and issuing summons, this office (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) has violated its own Rules of Procedure,” Moncupa added.
He cited the SP’s Rules of Procedure in administrative cases before Committee on Good Government and Accountability of Public Officers of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pangasinan (Adopted on November 15, 1996 and amended on August 25, 2000) which provides that it (SP) has jurisdiction on all verified complaints only against municipal officials within the province, to wit:
RULE III “Jurisdiction Of The Sangguniang Panlalawigan”
SECTION 16. Jurisdiction. – All verified complaints against elective municipal officials within the Province shall be cognizable by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan thru its Committee on Good Government and Accountability of Public Officers.”
Braganza’s counsel also charged that the complaint filed by Morante was “politically-motivated and was prompted by the latter’s desire to have PSU’s business for his own.”
Dr. Caridad Abuan, CHED Region I director, has declared in a recent media interview that the establishment and operation of the PSU-Alaminos is legal.
The Alaminos campus, however, was asked to withhold three programs in its curriculum – Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) and Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management (BSHM)— pending completion of requirements set by CHED.
Dr. Abuan said students of the campus taking up other programs have nothing to worry about, advising them to just continue their studies.
Braganza lamented that the “politics of greed” has reared its ugly head once again in Pangasinan to the detriment of poor but deserving students who wish to avail of a university degree to improve their lives.
“As mayor of Alaminos, I will see to it that this provision of the Constitution that says that it is the right of every Filipino citizen to have quality education is made a reality,” said Braganza, whose family owns the Great Plebeian College which was similarly affected by the rise of the PSU-Alaminos.
“This marriage of politics and greed cannot stop me from ensuring an equal opportunity for the youths of Pangasinan as far as quality and affordable education is concerned,” the mayor stressed.
Braganza’s scholarship program and his partnership with the Pangasinan State University have drawn accolades from political and community leaders in the province including Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin S. Lim.
The establishment of PSU-Alaminos by the partnership between PSU and the city government of Alaminos is a “novel cause that deserves to be equaled,” Mayor Lim said.
Mayor Lim, who announced his intention to also establish a state campus in his city for poor Dagupeños, advised those engaged in private education business to consider helping poor students who want to pursue college education and “not just profits.”