By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Jose Santino S. Bunachita May 29,2015 - 11:04 PM

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE. Staff and students of the Asian College of Technology (ACT) hold placards in support of the filling of charges against Cebu City Mayor Micheal Rama before the Regional Trial Court.

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE. Staff and students of the Asian College of Technology (ACT) hold placards in support of the filling of charges against Cebu City Mayor Micheal Rama before the Regional Trial Court.

TRO sought to stop exclusion from scholarship program

Asian College of Technology (ACT), two of its beleaguered scholars and two parents yesterday sought court intervention to compel Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to pay up.

They also asked the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City to stop Rama from excluding ACT in the city government’s scholarship program.

About 100 ACT teachers, scholars, and parents accompanied Manila-based lawyer Pelagio Lawrence Cuison when he filed a civil case for mandamus against Rama at the Cebu City Hall of Justice in Qimonda IT Center yesterday.

They carried tarpaulin banners and posters that read: “Mayor, diktador sa among kaugmaon. (The mayor is a dictator of our future)” and “Among kaugmaon, gipamulitika mo. (You have politicized our future),” among others.

The case will not be included in the regular raffling of cases on Monday since the court has yet to send a notice of raffle to Rama.

City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo said they have not received a copy of the complaint. A copy will be sent to them after it is raffled off to a sala.

“We will answer if ordered by the court. I cannot give an intelligent comment until I read the case,” Castillo said.

Cebu Daily News could not reach Rama for comment yesterday.

ACT International Educational Foundation, Inc. is seeking payment for P135 million in past due tuition for city scholars for the last two school years.

Rama has refused to pay, despite a city council authorization, because ACT founder and Cebu City south district Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa was found guilty of grave misconduct for conflict of interest.

Rama has also urged scholars not to enroll in ACT. Those already enrolled were advised to transfer.

The city has filed a petition for declaratory relief before the Court of Appeals to determine whether it should pay its P135-million dues to the school.

The appellate court has yet to rule on the petition.

“These are two different cases. We will leave everything to the courts to decide. But we will amply ventilate our legal position,” Castillo said.


In a civil case for mandamus filed in court yesterday, the petitioners asked the court to compel Rama to perform his “legal, mandatory and ministerial obligations” to city scholars enrolled in ACT.

This includes payment of their tuition amounting to P135 million.

The petitioners are ACT represented by Dr. Joseph Stephen Descallar; scholars Rhodcel Lhuven Marie Española and Veronica Caballero; as well as parents Josephine Caballero and Christina Gutierrez.

They also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against Rama.

They want to stop the mayor from excluding the school in the scholarship program. They also want him to refrain from actively urging scholars not to enroll in ACT.

They also requested the court to order the mayor to renew the city government’s memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the scholarship program with ACT for the coming school year.

“All of the Cebu City scholars and all of the accredited schools enjoy an equal protection in the full enforcement and implementation of the scholarship program,” said Cuison, counsel for the petitioners.

“As such, the city government should not arbitrarily, maliciously and unlawfully exclude and discriminate against the Cebu City scholars enrolled with an accredited school…,” he added.

Cuison said scholars Española and Caballero are each entitled to P100,000 in moral damages due to the unjustified refusal of the city government to pay their tuition since 2013.


In an interview, Cuison said Abellanosa’s case should not affect the city government’s scholarship program with ACT, especially after the congressman divested his shares in the school. Abellanosa was a city councilor and ACT president when the school signed up for the scholarship program.

“This has really become a matter of political feud (between Rama and Abellanosa). The collateral damage is the school,” Cuison said. Rama and Abellanosa belong to opposing political parties.

Abellanosa was ordered dismissed from public service in 2014. But he remains in public office while contesting the decision of the anti-graft office.

In its petition, ACT said 2,624 Cebu City scholar graduates have not received their transcript of records (TOR) because of the failure of the city to pay their tuition fees since 2013.

Also, the city government allegedly refused to settle the tuition fees of 1,329 returning Cebu City scholars at ACT.

The city’s scholarship program was introduced during the time of former Mayor Tomas Osmeña in 2010 in order to provide more opportunities to those who could not afford tertiary education.

Under a voucher system, the city government grants P10,000 to each scholar every semester. The amount is paid directly to the school of the student’s choice.

In 2013, the city government, allegedly through Rama, suddenly became unclear regarding the status of ACT as an accredited school.

The city government owes ACT around P135 million for tuition of city scholars enrolled in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

The petitioners said ACT is among the schools accredited by Cebu City in the implementation of the scholarship program. However, Rama allegedly refused to perform his mandatory legal duty to pay the tuition fees of the scholars.

They said city scholars at ACT were no longer recognized by Rama because Cebu City has not renewed its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the school for the coming school year.

“Despite the clear implementing legislation on the scholarship program, Mayor Rama has remained determined to exclude and discriminate against the inclusion of ACT, and the Cebu City scholars enrolled therein, in the implementation of the scholarship program,” the petitioners said.

They requested the court to immediately act on the case especially that school year 2015-2016 is about to start. Classes in private schools start on June 8.

“These facts clearly constitute that the matter is of extreme urgency. ACTIEF and all their city scholars have suffered and will continue to suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury, unless a temporary restraining order is immediately issued…,” the petitioners said.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City City Mayor Michael Rama, scholars

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