SC rejects judicial-review appeal by dismissed ARMM school official

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Supreme Court has rejected a petition for judicial review filed in Marawi City by a school official, whose case also prompted the High Tribunal to order a probe on a decision rendered by a lower court as well as an investigation by the Department of Education (DepEd) over corruption in schools.

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Director Amir Mawallil, of the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information, said Thursday that Mona Macatanong, a former school division superintendent, was ordered to vacate her office in May 2014 after she reached the compulsory retirement age of 65 in Oct. 2013.

But Macatanong had challenged her removal as ordered by the DepEd in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), saying her public birth records were defective.

“Macatanong resisted and insisted on the correction of her date of birth, as affirmed by the RTC, regional trial court, in Marawi, in order to extend her tenure until 2016,” Mawallil told The Manila Times.

He added that the Supreme Court also directed the Office of the Court Administrator and the Office of the Bar Confidant to conduct an investigation regarding the RTC’s “highly questionable” handling of Macatanong’s petition for correction of her date of birth.

“Macatanong’s case caused a backlog in the Marawi City Schools Division as it interrupted the process of promotion among teachers mandated by law,” Mawallil stressed.

He also said the DepEd is investigating reports that aspiring teachers had allegedly paid as much as P300,000 for a job in Marawi City.

Mawallil said the DepEd had appealed the RTC decision and eventually appointed Farida Sansarona as officer-in-charge of the school division. Sansarona was the former assistant school division superintendent.

Despite this, Macatanong continued acting as division superintendent that resulted in confusion among public-school teachers and affected the DepEd operations in Marawi City.

“Macatanong also went to the Supreme Court and filed a motion for certiorari, but this was denied by the High Court,” Mawallil said.

He added that the legal proceedings against the former education official had dragged on for two years and “the decision of the Supreme Court is a welcome development to all as this will set the record straight once and for all.”

Mawallil said ARMM Education Secretary John Magno also expressed relief. “We pursued legal action because we knew that the rule of law was on our side and this Supreme Court decision affirms our position,” he quoted Magno as saying.

There was no immediate statement from Macatanong, but her followers had repeatedly besmirched the reputations of Magno and that of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on social media following her removal from office. AL JACINTO

AJ/BF

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