By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
After years of unuse, the West Crame Elementary School in San Juan City finally opened its doors anew on Monday.
Mayor Francis Zamora led the opening of the P48.3-million public school—the first public school in San Juan’s most populated barangay—funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund of his father, Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.
The four-story school building with 20 classrooms and a rooftop basketball court had been idle since its completion in 2015, depriving at least 600 students use of the facility.
“Dahil sa mga kwentong politika, halos tatlong taon at walong buwan nanatiling sarado ang paaralang ito (Because of the story of politics, this school remained closed for almost three years and eight months),” Zamora said in his speech.
With the opening of the school, students from Barangay West Crame, who have to enroll at nearby schools in Quezon City, could now transfer and continue their education at the new school.
Zamora likened the opening of the school to destiny for they have waited years for the school to be opened.
“Makasaysayan ang gusaling ito kasi nagamit siya sa unang pagkakataon nung nakaraang halalan (This building is historic for it was used for the first time during the elections),” Zamora said.
“At itong gusaling ito ang nagbigay po sa akin ng malaking panalo dito sa barangay West Crame (And this was the building that gave me the biggest win here in Barangay West Crame),” he said.
“Kaya naman parang tila tadhana na nangyari ang araw na ito sapagkat ang tagal nating hinintay (That is why it is like destiny that this happened today for we have waiting for this for so long),” he added.
On Election Day last May, the school housed 12 clustered precincts that catered to over 10,000 voters of Barangay West Crame.
The election results on May 13 turned the tide of politics in the city when Zamora won with a lead of over 10,000 against Ejercito-Estrada, whose family has claimed San Juan as their bailiwick for almost five decades.
The school, which is located at around 50 meters away from the firing range of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, was unused for years due to safety concerns.
Stray bullets believed to have been coming from the firing range were reportedly found within the vicinity of the campus, posing danger to students as well as the residents in the area.
Zamora told reporters that he and his father visited PNP General Oscar Albayalde two weeks ago where the country’s top cop reiterated that the school was already safe to use.
The city mayor said that the then PNP chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Education Secretary Leonor Briones issued a certificate declaring that the school was safe.
The school faces the back perimeter wall of Camp Crame. A solid-metal retaining wall that sits on top of the camp’s concrete wall almost levels the height of the school’s third floor.
Zamora said the previous administration tried to change the purpose of the building to drug rehabilitation center or to make it into a public housing.
However, his father disputed that the utilization of the facility should not be changed for the funding was allocated specifically for a school building.
Zamora told reporters that he and his father visited PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde two weeks ago where the country’s top cop reiterated that the school is safe to use.
The city mayor said that the then PNP chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Education Secretary Leonor Briones also previously issued a certificate declaring that the school is safe to use.
The school is facing the back perimeter wall of Camp Crame. A solid-metal retaining wall that sits on top of the camp’s concrete wall almost levels the height of the school’s third floor.
Albayalde, according to Zamora, assured that the precautions earlier installed in 2017 will be added to ensure the safety of students.
The PNP chief has also suspended for the meantime the use of the firing range to pave way for the installation of the additional retaining wall, Zamora added.