Court junks civil case against STC officials

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The Cebu City Regional Trial Court finally dismissed the petition for injunction filed by parents against officials of St Theresa’s College (STC) who had barred five high school seniors from joining their graduation ceremony.

It was too late for parents to seek relief through an injunction since the March 20 commencement exercise had already passed, said the judge.

However, Judge Silvestre Maama of Branch 17 said the cause of action for damages against STC is “still legally feasible” and can be pursued by filing a separate case.

The case caused a furor last summer over issues of Internet use, a school’s authority to discipline, privacy of Facebook posts, and the role of parents.

The girls were allowed to graduate but couldn’t march in the ceremony with their classmates to get their diplomas as punishment for posting photos on Facebook showing them in bikinis and drinking liquor in a bar.

Lawyer Cornelio Mercado, counsel of two petitioners, said his clients would not give up.

“We will ask for reconsideration,” said Mercado in a text message to Cebu Daily News.

Joan Largo, counsel of STC, was elated over the dismissal of the main petition against the Catholic school.

“We are happy that our position has been sustained by the court,” she said over the phone.

STC is facing one remaining case for violation of Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office.

The other complaints filed against the school were earlier dismissed by the prosecutors’ office.

In a Dec. 3 resolution released yesterday, the judge also rejected the petition of the mother of one of the students who wanted to intervene in the case.

Maamo, the third judge to handle the case, said the plea for intervention was “admittedly overlooked” and was not acted upon due to conflicting court rulings.

He said intervention is not a matter of right of the parties but depends on the sound discretion of the court.

“In determining the propriety of intervention, the court shall inquire whether the intervenors have legal interest on the subject matter of litigation… This court rules that the amended complaint in intervention is improper in this case,” Maamo said.

STC earlier protested the setting of the case for pre-trial conference.

Of the five students who couldn’t march for graduation, four girls and their parents and guardian sued STC.

The main petitioner withdrew from the case a few months later. Another girl backed out after an amicable settlement was reached with the school. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol

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