MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Science High School (PSHS) board of trustees on Tuesday, May 28, reversed itself and decided to bar from graduation rites the 6 male students who were found to have shared nude photos of their female classmates online.
Several PSHS insiders confirmed this to Rappler on Tuesday night, hours before the graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 29.
"They will not be here tomorrow," one source said.
"The 6 of them will not march," another added.
While they won't be allowed to march, 3 of the 6 boys will still get their diplomas, an ABS-CBN report quoted Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña as saying.
This was confirmed to Rappler by a PSHS insider.
Dela Peña is ex-officio chairman of the PSHS board of trustees.
He added that the other 3 will get certificates after “requirements that are part of penalty are completed or served.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, students were demanding that the board of trustees announce its final decision on the matter ahead of the ceremonies.
A meeting on the matter was held for some 6 hours on Tuesday.
Several female students filed complaints with school authorities after learning that their boyfriends also from PSHS had shared their nude photos online, trading them for photos of other girls. (READ: From victim to fighter: 'We all have to take a stand,' says Pisay student)
After months of investigation, two school committees recommended disciplinary action against the boys and for them to be prevented from marching during graduation rites.
However, the PSHS board of trustees overturned the decision of the two school committees.
The school board changed its tune after students, parents, faculty, and alumni of the school published statements online condemning the board decision. They also gathered at the PSHS main campus on Thursday, May 24, to protest the board’s earlier decision less than a week before PSHS’ graduation. This prompted the board to announce it would reconsider its earlier decision.
During the gathering, students called on board members to hold the 6 boys responsible for not only violating school rules, but also the Cybercrime Prevention Act after having shared the photos of their female classmates online without their consent. (READ: Pisay students to school board: Don't let students who shared lewd photos graduate)
Students earlier sought to remind the board that the “diginity of the victims have been damaged” and that the “offenders have reduced them to mere objects of sexual desire, instead of human beings who deserve the utmost respect.” – Rappler.com