CHEd slammed for illegal enrollment memo

The Public Attorney’s Office has branded as unconstitutional, a violation of basic human rights to education and illegal the memorandum issued by the Commission on Higher Education preventing unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students from enrolling in college and universities.

PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta and forensic expert and lawyer Dr. Erwin Erfe, in a press conference, took the cudgels for thousands of displaced college students in denouncing the CHEd order.

Last Thursday, 17 August, PAO wrote a letter to Dr. J. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera III, chairperson of the CHEd.

Acosta said the letter was an action taken by her office in response to requests for legal assistance from a number of parents and students who are about to enroll, are enrolling, and are currently in their third, fourth, or fifth year in their studies at certain Higher Education Institutions.

These students with their parents, Acosta said, called and wrote the PAO to seek help, regarding their fate of ever starting or finishing their courses, considering their Covid-19 vaccination status.

The concerned students include those who are not fully vaccinated with any Covid-19 vaccine (with incomplete vaccination or no booster shots), and those who are not at all vaccinated for varied valid reasons, such as health concerns (those with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines, immunocompromised) and unavailability of vaccines.

Acosta said that according to
CHEd-Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular 2021, the guidelines on the face-to-face modality for HEIs, as supplemented by CHED Memorandum Order 01, Series of 2022 — essentially gave confusing requirements and broad discretion to HEIs, resulting to more restrictions than accommodation for Covid-19 unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students.

The CHEd memorandum dated 18 March came under fire as it stated that only fully vaccinated teaching, non-teaching personnel, and students shall be allowed on the premises, while unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students shall continue under flexible learning modalities.

Acosta said it runs counter to Section 12 of RA 11525 and Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights that states everyone has a right to education and that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the strengthening of respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“And because RA No. 11525 did not make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory, the CHEd must adapt, align and follow the move, the will, and the decision of the Department of Education, through the Honorable Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, in issuing a
non-discriminatory policy relative to Covid-19 vaccination status of students and staff in schools under DepEd jurisdiction through Department Order No. 34, Series of 2022,” Acosta said.

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