By: Nelson S. Badilla
TEACHING profession has been regarded as a noble one since the time of Socrates, a great teacher and philosopher of his time.
Socrates’ description on teacher remains true today.
If the teacher works hard to become president of school, it means that the said teacher is indeed noble throughout his teaching career.
He extremely values the virtues of honesty, simplicity, and respect to the school’s properties funded by taxpayers’ money.
However, I am extremely disappointed every time I heard a news that a teacher has committed corruption, especially if he or she is a school president, because he or she knows very well that corruption should be out of his or her vocabulary.
But then, I realized that I am speaking of an ideal school president.
When I was still taking up my doctorate program in education, I heard from the professors where I was studying, that the university president has enriched himself through corruption.
The president I am referring to was never charged in the court.
He was replaced by another professor.
The perception on the professor was that he would not do what his predecessor has committed, because he was an activist when he was a college student.
Unfortunately, the perception was merely a perception because along the way, common friends told me that the said president did the same thing like what his predecessor had committed while still the big boss of the university.
Santiago Labanen, former president of the Abra State Institute of Science and Technology (ASIST), was not fortunate like the university president I was talking about because corruption charges were slapped on him before the Sandiganbayan.
Just recently, Labanen was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan for 18-year imprisonment after the anti-graft court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
implementing anomalous projects in ASIST.
The Sandiganbayan stressed on its 90-page decision that Labanen violated Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Labanen was also convicted of malversation of public funds in violation of the Revised Penal Code.
The Sandiganbayan ordered Labanen to pay a fine of P36,000 and forfeited his retirement benefits.
The crime he committed was filed by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan in 1993.
The Sandiganbayan finalized its decision this 2017.
The case stemmed from the renovation of the school’s dormitory and vocational building, construction of administration building and teachers’ cottage, and purchase of a used vehicle.
These projects were done when Labanen was the school president from 1987 to 1988.
But it turned out that these projects never implemented, Sandiganbayan discovered.
Labanen, of course, presented pieces of evidence against the evidence of the prosecution, but the Sandiganbayan justices were not convinced.
Labanen, a teacher who became a school president because he deserved that, unfortunately he committed that was expected to be done by a person who is not satisfied with his regular monthly income.
He needs more money to satisfy his hunger for material things.
Labaden, who was already a school president, was expected to manage the school for the good and interest of the students.
But he did not.
Labaden’s case can be considered a concrete example that corruption can also be done by people who prefer a noble profession.