Friday, July 5, 2013

Court of Appeals nullifies TRO on CHED closure order on deficient PMI programs

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) clarified on Friday that its Final Closure Orders on the Philippine Maritime Institute's BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) courses in its Manila and Quezon City campuses remain valid.

The clarification was issued after the Special 13th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) on May 24 granted CHED's petition to nullify the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) that Judge Rosa Samson of Branch 105, RTC, Quezon City issued in January 2012.

"This Order allowed the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) Colleges to continue accepting enrollees despite CHED’s order to close its non-compliant BS Marine Transportation (BSMT) and BS Marine Engineering (BSMarE) courses," CHED said in a statement on June 7.

According to CHED, based on several rounds of inspection from 2006 to 2010 the PMI programs were "consistently non-compliant with the standards of CHED and the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers."

In 2010, the European Maritime Safety Agency conducted an independent audit of maritime schools in the country, and found PMI to be grossly deficient.

CHED revealed its decision to shut down the BSMT and BSMarE programs in October of 2011.

"The Injunction Judge Samson issued in 2012 in favor of PMI effectively prevented CHED from implementing its Final Closure Order of the Institute’s deficient maritime programs," CHED said.

According to CHED, "the CA nullified the TRO and WPI because it considered the issuance of Judge Samson’s Order a grave abuse of discretion since it did not satisfy the three requirements under the law for its issuance."

CHED listed the three requirements:

First, PMI does not have a clear legal right since CHED had revoked government recognition of PMI’s programs due to several uncorrected deficiencies over the years.

Second, CHED is authorized by law to impose sanctions on educational institutions which fail to comply with its requirements.

Third, as to the need for the Injunction, the CA found no urgent and paramount need  since the closure orders had been issued and fully implemented before Judge Samson issued the Order.

CHED Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan “welcomes the Court of Appeals Decision. It affirms the necessary and valuable support of the judicial system to the legitimate reforms pursued by CHED, particularly in Maritime Education, which have very serious implications for the employment of our Filipino seafarers in the international maritime industry.”

Students who desire to enroll in BSMT and BSMarE programs should enroll only in schools with programs that are officially recognized by CHED, it reiterated.

According to a report in May, 44 marine higher education institutions (MHEIs) were ordered to close their BSMT programs. Meanwhile, 34 MHEIs offering BSME programs were ordered to be closed by CHED. — Carmela Guanzon LapeƱa/BM, GMA News

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