STC defies ‘deficient’ TRO

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The 5 students who posted bikini photos of themselves on Facebook are barred from marching in graduation rites

IN THE LIMELIGHT. St Theresa's College Cebu takes center stage after it disallows 5 of its students from joining graduation rites.

MANILA, Philippines – The saga continues.

St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Cebu City defied a temporary restraining order issued by a regional trial court and disallowed 5 students from graduation rites. The girls posted on their Facebook accounts photos of themselves in bikinis.

According to a report by Cebu Daily News (CDN), the parents of the girls came dressed in formal attire while the students donned their school uniforms but were turned away Friday afternoon, March 30.

“Inhuman, animal and cruel,” exclaimed one of the mothers quoted by CDN. The 2 girls who came in uniform, hoping to march along with their classmates, cried.

The CDN report quoted Cornelio Mercado, counsel of four of five girls being punished by STC as saying, “The court was disrespected.” The school cited “lewd” and “immoral” behavior on the part of the students as basis for its decision to exclude the girls from the graduation rites.

The school’s decision was condemned by the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP). SCAP said STC violated the Bill of Rights, which guarantees every person’s freedom of speech and expression. The group also said the school violated the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act (Republic Act 9262) “for causing psychological violence to the student causing humiliation and trauma.”

Even the National Youth Commission expressed concern over the incident and implored the school to allow the girls to graduate. The plea fell on deaf ears.

Recently, 6 students in a private school in Marikina City were also barred from attending their graduation ceremonies after the school administration found a prank “damaging” to the institution’s reputation. The students posted online photos of themselves simulating a kiss.

Contempt charges

Defiance by STC of the TRO issued by the court opens up the school to charges of contempt, according to Mercado.

STC legal counsel Romeo Balili,  however, said the order of RTC judge Wilfredo Navarro was “deficient” and unbinding.

“Judge Navarro made a grievous act. He issued a TRO without a bond,” he said. The bond is supposed to answer for possible damages.

During the graduation ceremony, the names of the 5 students were not called out. The rest of the 200 graduating seniors walked up the stage to claim their high school diplomas. –

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