DepEd to look into Cebu school’s manual, Internet rules


CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking into the controversy over the refusal of St. Theresa’s College to let five graduating students attend their high shcool commencement exercise.

The central office in Manila has asked the DepEd regional office to submit a report on the conflict, which stemmed from the school’s March 1 decision to penalize the students for posting “lewd” photos in their Facebook accounts and other alleged misconduct discovered in February.

“We were required to gather facts about this matter,” said Carmelita Dulangon, acting DepEd chief of Central Visayas.

“We would have wanted both parties to come together, listen to both sides and reach a  compromises for a ‘win-win’ solution, but we cannot preempt the court,” she said.

The inquiry, she said,  will cover the Student Handbook, whose provisions were the basis for the punishment, including a section that prohibits “Posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure”.

“If there are questionable sections that will be brought to our attention, then we can tell the school to revise it,” said Dulangon, but she stressed that DepEd respects the manual governing the rules and operation of the school, and that parents and students are given copies before for the school year begins.

Issues of privacy, the use of social networking sites and how far the disciplinary action of an educational institution goes in the Internet age are some of the challenges highlighted in the Cebu school dispute.

STC, a private Catholic school, is one of the few schools in Cebu that have specific rules about Internet use.

The girls were censured for posing in bikinis and engaging in what the school called “obscene”, “sexually provocative” and “immoral” conduct, even as parents of one of the 16-year-old girls said they saw nothing alarming in the photos  taken during their daughter’s birthday celebration in a Mactan beach resort with her friends and family members.

STC officials, in a statement, said the incident, while taking place in a family gathering,  still occurred in a “public place”. They said “being a Theresian is 24/7” and that a student “upholds the virtues and values of the school wherever she goes.”

While Internet use is widespread among students, schools wrestle with how to regulate risks of overexposure in social networking sites, especially by  youths who share photos and personal details online.  (See column of Ricky Poca)

Last week, five boys in  Infant Jesus Academy in Manila, a sectarian school, were initially bared from attending their graduation after one of the boys posted photos of them kissing one another in his Facebook account. Parents complained to INQUIRER Radio, and the DepEd promptly intervened and prevailed upon the school to let the students graudate although the boy’s diplomas were withheld for the meantime.

Raul Pangalangan, former dean of the University fo the Philippines College of Law, in his INQUIRER column “Schools as Facebook patrol” last Thursday pointed out the thorny issue of school and parental authority and online use.

“… under the Family Code, the school exercises ‘special parental authority’ only during school activities. The mother says that the bikini shot was taken at a ‘family or private social activity [that] does not involve the school’s supervision and control’ and ‘was not connected with the school curriculum.’ The school cannot install itself as moral watchdog over a student’s entire life.

“Three, the school actually intruded into the student’s privacy. The photograph was apparently posted on the girl’s Facebook account whose privacy settings allowed access only to her friends. The school officials were not her Facebook friends, and were kibitzers into the child’s zone of privacy. Indeed, if indeed the girl’s privacy settings gave access only to her friends, the girl’s Facebook posts are technically hearsay vis-à-vis the school officials because they were not privy to her posts.”

STC officials denied allegations that they “hacked” the students’ Facebook account. In a Friday press conference, they said the photos were actually brought to the attention of teachers by other STC students who were “disturbed” by them.

A criminal complaint was filed on Friday by three of the girls and their parents against the STC principal and four teachers for grave oral defamation and violation of the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 for using the Facebook photos without their consent to accuse the students of “immoral” behavior.

The school manuals, which are crafted by the school in consultation with parents and faculty, are subject to approval of DepEd which has a 2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools.

On Friday, the school shut out the five complaining students from the high school graduation rites.

This occurred despite a March 28 Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Regional Trial Court Judge  Wilfredo Navarro directing the school to let two of the girls “fully participate” in the commencement exercise to avoid further traumatizing them.

The school’s lawyer Romeo Balili later said the court order was “deficient” because it was issued without a bond to answer for possible damage.  He said STC has “all the right not to comply with the TRO.”

Cebu City Schools Division Supt. Dr. Rhea Mar Angtud expressed surprise over the development.

“Wala gyud diay nipatuo ang STC? We were expecting everything to be fine after the TRO was issued,”  Angtud said in a phone interview.

She said the DepEd order to conduct an inquiry was given before the graduation but with Friday’s development, she will have to coordinate with the court.

She said  they will review STC’s manuals to see what rules and regulations were violated to avoid the same issues from reviving.

“The investigation and review will be implemented in accordance with the results of the court’s proceedings and will be done to prevent cases like this from happening in the future,” she said.

As for Friday’s refusal to obey the court order to let the seniors march in the graudation rites to get their diplomas, Angtud said DepEd said they will leave it to the court to decide. /Reporter Candeze Mongaya, UP Mass Com Intern Sean Timothy Salvador

Originally posted at 07:41 am | Sunday, April 1, 2012

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AFDQQH2M3OD6ZGBJNJ34UZHIV4 Enrico

    Tingnan ito ng DepEd para ma regulate at di makapang abuso itong mga catholic school na ito. Wala na mga Kastila asal Hari pa rin sila. Keep your rules within your school and do not overlap within students private life.

    Out the school premises is beyond your control. Nadyan na ang mga magulang nyan para magsabi sa kanila kung tama o mali ang pag uugali nila. We have our own morality that maybe not the same with nun or priest of a catholic school. Maliban sa mga magulang, nandyan din ang mga barangay officials o mga kapulisan na gagawa ng aksyon kung may paglabag sa batas.

    Kaya kayong mga Catholic Schools lalo kana STC, magbago na kayo…Masyado na kayong lasing sa kapangyarihan kaya di nyo na alam kung hanggang saan ang limitasyon nyo. 

  • http://pedestrianobserver.blogspot.com/ Political Jaywalker

    If we go by the STC standard of morality it would mean that wearing a bikini in itself is lewd and just got exacerbated by the online posting. Never mind that it is their personal Facebook account and that those are outside the school jurisdiction or the “offending lewd” show of skin was not inside the school campus.

    Are the Catholics following in the footsteps of the extremist morality police and pretty soon we will not be able to distinguish between the Osama Bin Laden Taliban type to a Catholic’s version of morality police? Will we see our Catholic girl students in abaya garb like the ones worn by Muslim women ruled by Islamo-Fascist extremist?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AV6WEADA5CYM6QGHBRFTV34U3I Jamjam

    STC was very arrogant they should be comtempt and put in jail.  Pagbikinihin sila sa loob ng kulungan.

  • rjimenez1226

    Please impose punitive judgment  on the school disallowing turition fee in reases for five  years and restricting enrollment. That School is a Ta;lebanic institution and  I encourage all parents to avoid the school for their children. The nuns in there are repressed maniacs.

  • rjimenez1226

    The fascist nuns of  STC and the anti-women priests of the school;l violated the girl’s human rights. I don’t think it was  even about religion.

  • http://civilservice.boxpinoy.com/civilserviceexam.php Rorschach

    Who’s stopping you from enrolling your kids at Dalampasigang Kurimao Public H.S., they don’t care about FB accounts.
    They don’t care about your kids at all. LOL

  • brunogiordano

    “Issues of privacy, the use of social networking sites and how far the
    disciplinary action of an educational institution goes in the Internet
    age are some of the challenges highlighted in the Cebu school dispute.”

    TAMA!!!! panahon na dapat na magkaroon ng thorough review ang ‘manual governing the rules and operation of the school(catholic shools in particular) na dapat ipasunod sa lahat( hindi kanya kanyang regulation) ng catholic schools.

    ang manual ay dapat base sa -“maintain at all times the dignity and rights of each student”, and to “have regard to the family and cultural values”.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/54M5UOMVB2SA24X4TGOSWDSIWU yahoo-54M5UOMVB2SA24X4TGOSWDSIWU

    7 out of 10 top universities in the Phil are run by Catholic priest and nuns…nevermind that most of the top school for both elementary and high school are run by priest and nuns. Bakit kaya noh? Kaya kayo dyan naghuhusga ng mga catholic schools siguraduhin ninyo di bobo ang mga anak ninyo kasi yung mga non sectarian school na magaganda (both college, elementary and highschool level)  kahit gaano pa kadami pera ninyo pag bobo anak ninyo di sila makakapasok. :)) yun lang

  • http://twitter.com/wilfredohvillen wilfredo h. villena

    The STC sisters only obeys the commandments of GOD. No TRO can compel them if it goes againts the Ten Commandments, these order of sisters had been persecuted by oppressive regimes on many foreign countries but never buckle up. The Nazi’s tried but failed! 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AFDQQH2M3OD6ZGBJNJ34UZHIV4 Enrico

      Which of the ten Commandment you are saying? I don’t see it there. Roman Catholic did nothing to oppose the Nazi’s as a matter of fact, Italy where Vatican is sited, join the axis of evil (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the present Pope Benedict XVI was a member of Hitler’s Youth when he was a Seminarian and join the war for Germany.

      But the issue here is that the rules of STC extended over the private lives of these students and this is very wrong.

    • erisq2003



  • valsore

    They should catch the Theresians who go to motels at night, not those who go to beaches during the day, LOL.

    • mikay16

      at least they were inside the motels doing their thing and not gyrating their private parts on boys lap in the open..if these theresians whom you see going to motels at night are caught, you think they will not be in trouble?unfortunately, these kids were caught..if they weren’t caught, i dont think it will reach this far.. The rules of the school is not just selective, it is for everyone who gets caught… lesson?don’t get caught..and if you are, take responsibility of your actions..as simple as that..

  • mikay16

    The problem is, the kids did wrong, then questioned the handbook..(because they are already screwed)..they should have checked the handbook first, fight for its revision, wait to win, then do what they just did.. problema kasi nating mga pinoy, pag hindi sangayon sa atin, reklamo agad..kaya nga madaming rallies d ba…. kung i revise man ang skul policy,do you think time na din para i revise ang ating constitution?bulok din kasi yan eh…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AFDQQH2M3OD6ZGBJNJ34UZHIV4 Enrico

      OK nagkamali ang mga estudyante kaya lumabas itong rules ng school kung saan mali din pala dahil salungat ito sa Family Code. Now kung ikukumpara ang dalawa school rules at Family Code aba maling mali talaga ang school rules dahil sino sila para pakialaman ang buong pagkatao ng estudyante nila. Ang relasyon ng school at estudyante ay during school activities lang maliban dun wala na. So lahat tayo lumagar sa tamang kalalagyan.

      Galit galit pa sila sa pagpapicture ng nka swim suit bakit wla ba silang beuty contest kung saan may swim suit attire? O kaya di ba sila nagseserve ng beer kung may fund raising sa skwelahan? Wala pa akong nakitang Catholic school na exempted dyan… Dyan pa lang salungat na sila sa sarili nilang rules.

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