COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

Like the biblical exodus, the Holy Week period has always ushered in so much travel of people going out of town, or trips abroad for the rich ones. Many of us take the opportunity of the Lenten season to break away from our daily toil and take a much needed respite to places near and far.

In anticipation of the travel exodus, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista placed on red alert all transport-related government agencies to cope with the extra loads of people, whether traveling by land, air or sea to arrive at their destinations.

The Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) has been getting the bulk of these Holy Week travelers by land. Trekking to North and South Luzon provinces, the cheapest but convenient mode of transport they can afford are the provincial buses that go through the Megawide’s PITX complex at Bgy. Tambo. According to Jason Salvador, official spokesperson of the PITX, at least 1.7 million passengers are expected to go through the PITX during the Holy Week travel binge.

Salvador noted the provincial bus operators at the PITX have deployed additional bus units to accommodate the seasonal increase in the volume of passengers. On the part of the PITX management, Salvador cited the air-conditioned waiting areas have enough seats for the comfort of travelers, while food and snack kiosks are located at the first and second floors of the terminal for departure and arrival areas, respectively.

Salvador assured the public that all buses going through the PITX undergo pre-screening for roadworthiness while drivers undergo random drug-testing, among other transport safety safeguards. Likewise, he cited security checks are done at the PITX on commuters and their baggage. Travelers are assured, however, to get seated in 50-passenger capacity air-conditioned buses at the PITX, he stressed. But for those who want cheaper fares, non-airconditioned buses are also available, he added.

According to him, the PITX expects the highest number of commuters will be recorded today as the last working day. Last minute travelers flock at the PITX until Maundy Thursday, he quipped.

Incidentally, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are the only two days in the calendar that we enjoy not working at The STAR. We all go back at The STAR on Black Saturday to spread the good news on Easter Sunday.

Media too, also take a pause from the daily grinding of news – good or bad – that we deliver to the public.?

Speaking of good news, it was one of the rare times that we saw Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte to be a very forgiving person. Known for her strong will and quick temper, her feisty persona was nowhere to be seen when she dealt with a public school teacher who was caught on video depicting her castigating students with scathing words. It went viral in social media, uploaded on a short video platform TikTok.

The National Capital Region (NCR) DepEd regional director immediately investigated the case after the media reported about the incident at a public school obviously located in Metro Manila. As it turned out from the internal investigation, the video was uploaded by the students without their teacher’s knowledge.

Interviewed by reporters on the sidelines of her official visit in Cambodia last March 21, VP Sara told them she already saw the video and read the explanation of the teacher about her outburst. While emotions got the better of the teacher, VP Sara noted, she did not see any mean intention on the teacher’s part.

“My first reaction was that the teacher is only human. We all reach a boiling point, especially when we are frustrated. This is especially true for our teachers as they are dealing not only with a single person. One class is composed of about 25 to 45 students, sometimes 55 students,” VP Sara pointed out.

A lawyer by profession, VP Sara sees no legal liability on the part of the teacher. The teacher told her DepEd superiors she did not notice she was being recorded by some naughty students. It was apparently during an online sessions with them through DepEd’s blended learning mode.

If that’s the case, this is one of the job hazards of teachers with blended learning. The present generation of schoolchildren have weaponized social media at the tip of their hands.

The DepEd should have looked deeper into whoever uploaded the video on Tiktok. For all we know, the uploader earned so much for the views generated by that video. If it has no capability to do so, the DepEd could have asked proper agencies like the Department of Information and Technology (DICT) to do it for them.

Or the DepEd could refer the case to the cyber experts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Philippine National Police (PNP). This is a clear case of cyber bullying at the very least, and violation of the privacy rights of the teacher. The public school teachers, too, need to be protected from bullying by their students.

But as far as the DepEd Secretary is concerned, she instructed the DepEd NCR chief to just remind the teacher to slow down and temper her emotions whenever she is angry or frustrated. “I saw her (teacher) explanation. So, I told our regional office that there will be no penalties for the teacher. Just remind the teacher that if she is angry, she has to pause, stop the class. And when she’s not angry anymore, that’s when she starts teaching again,” the VP opined.

“For our teachers, there’s really a need to pause when you are angry. So, I told the regional director to remind her of that,” VP Sara pointed out.

“All of us get caught up by anger. Thus, we should know what to do when we get angry. The teacher should just be reminded of that,” VP Sara stressed.

For someone who got unhinged and angrily punched a male sheriff while she was mayor of Davao City, VP Sara was speaking from experience. Been there, done that, so to speak.

So let us all take a pause.

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