CA orders QC school to release salutatorian's docs

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Court of Appeals (CA) on Wednesday, July 29, compelled Sto Niño Parochial School (SNPS) in Quezon City to release the certificate of good moral character of Krisel Mallari, the high school salutatorian who made headlines after her graduation speech was cut short by school officials

"Wherefore, Krisel's application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction is granted and a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction is issued ordered SNPS to immediately release upon receipt of this resolution a certificate of good moral character in favor of Krisel," the 8-page resolution from the 2nd division of the CA read.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Socorro Inting, and concurred by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and division chair Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando. 

Mallari recently filed an extremely urgent petition before the CA after her school refused to release her certificate – a requirement to enter the University of Sto Tomas (UST)'s accountancy program, where she already reserved a slot. 

In her petition, Mallari said without the certificate, she would lose her slot which in turn "will put my education to a halt and my future in jeopardy." 

The CA on Wednesday emphasized that the school should issue the certificate immediately since classes in UST will start in August and "time is of the essence."

The appellate court also slammed the school for its "unreasonable non-issuance" of the certificate which displayed "its chronic lack of concern to a child who it has reared for 11 years."

"Krisel, just like any other child, commits transgressions and therefore, must be disciplined. However, the manner by which she is disciplined should not go to the extent of spoiling or destroying her dreams and aspirations," the order read. 

The 16-year-old incoming college freshman is represented by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO).


'Grave abuse of discretion' 

During her high school graduation on March 21, Mallari delivered a speech hinting on her school’s lack of fairness instead of giving just the assigned "welcome remarks." (READ: DepEd questions timing of QC salutatorian's speech)

A video of her speech went viral and caught the attention of the Department of Education (DepEd). In fact, DepEd-QC not only required the school to submit a report on the incident, but even asked UST to give Mallari until May 11 to submit her certificate – a request that the university granted.

Mallari has already previously filed a complaint for injunction with damages, and her case was raffled to Quezon City Quezon Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 216. The court denied this in a May 27 order. 

When the school still refused to release her certificate, Mallari filed on May 28 an urgent motion for reconsideration. The RTC again denied this, ruling that it was reasonable for the school registrar Yolanda Casero to protect the school.

UST's deadline was again extended until July 15. DepEd itself issued a certificate dated June 9 which stated that Mallari has no derogatory record or any complaint filed against her, but the university did not honor this.

Mallari's petition filed before the CA said Judge Alfonso Ruiz, the RTC presiding judge, committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that it was reasonable for the school to withhold Mallari's certificate.

"Moreover, it is highly dubious that the RTC readily sided with [the school] and Mrs Casero 'regardless of the truth' of their contentions. Their argument that they cannot certify to a fact which they believe is untrue principally makes up their entire defense – even with respect to the 'damages' aspect of the case," the petition read.

'Serve as role models'

It also defended Mallari's speech and her family's requests for a copy of the grades computation as actions "founded on facts" and "not intended to malign the school". 

Thus, the petition maintained that the student's actions did not ruin her good moral character. 

"SNPS cannot expect Krisel and her father to keep mum over an injustice she clearly suffered. This is tyrannical, to say the least. The school officials and administrators, who indeed exercise parental authority over Krisel in school, should be open-minded enough to accept challenges against its decisions," the petition read.

"Krisel is just a minor; and the school officials should serve as her role models. It is truly destructive to our society for schools to inculcate in their students that they must do nothing but silently and timidly accept whatever decision the school makes or policy it has – irrespective of whether it is right or wrong." 

CA asked the school to comment within 10 days from notice, and Mallari to file her reply within 5 days. –