(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe reports of alleged emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA).

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Duterte sent a letter to the NBI, requesting an urgent “comprehensive report” on the matter.

“In a letter duly received by the NBI on July 11, 2022, Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Z. Duterte has requested the investigation body to provide a comprehensive report on the issue as soon as possible,” the DepEd said.

In a virtual press conference, DepEd Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said they have also sent their own team to directly look into the matter.

“We’ve already also dispatched our Child Protection Unit and Child Rights Education desk to also look into the situation, and to verify whether or not, or how true the allegations are,” he said.

Meanwhile, the management of PHSA said it is now looking into these reports.

“PHSA has also informed the Department that they are examining the current and prior information on the matter… The Department and PHSA Administration are currently reviewing the school’s existing policies and strengthening its internal mechanisms to ensure the safety of the students inside the premises of the institution,” the DepEd said.

Besides these investigations, Densing echoed the DepEd’s stand against “any form of abuse” under the leadership of Duterte.

“All our regional directors have been made aware of this and most probably, they will be issuing certain directives down the line, to ensure that such happening will not happen in the schools where they are governing within the region,” he said.

On June 28, an exclusive report on the alleged culture of “sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse” was published in Vice World News which caught the attention of the public, concerning unattended complaints from “generations of abused students” at the PHSA.

The article included testimonials against the disturbing environment brought by the lack of “clear boundaries between adult staff and students,” recalling instances of teachers hanging out with students and even sleeping in the students’ dormitories, enabling abusive behaviors. (PNA)