We all make mistakes but I still want to graduate.”
This was the plea of the female university student in Cebu at the center of a sex video scandal involving cellphone camera images taken two years ago by her boyfriend that ended up on the Web.
The 24-year-old student, who hopes to graduate in March, yesterday sought the help of lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna to negotiate with officials of the Catholic school where she is enrolled.
“Dili importante kon unsa ang gipansulti sa mga tao. Ang akong pag-eskwela ang important,” she told reporters in his office.
(What people say about me isn’t important. What’s important is that I finish my studies.)
Dela Cerna went to the university yesterday afternoon to explore the request of the young woman, whose grades were good enough to place her on the dean’s list for several semesters.
“She wants to go back to school and graduate. She’s a victim of circumstances and was distressed by the situation,” said the lawyer, who took on the case free of charge.
Dela Cerna begged off from giving details of the discussion with school authorities but was optimistic of the outcome.
“Hayag na ang iyang graduation. (There’s a chance she can graduate)” he told Cebu Daily News.
“The Student Affairs Office is very receptive to the conditions of the students. This is a very good Catholic institution,” he said.
The school administration declined to issue any statement when Cebu Daily News called up the SAO, asking to speak to the director.
CDN is withholding the name of the student and the school at their request, to spare the young woman from further trauma.
However, the scandal is widely discussed in radio programs and social media channels, especially after the video was posted on the Facebook page of school alumni in January, and went viral.
Mia (not her real name) has been absent for 10 days from classes and was advised by the school to temporarily stop going to the university.
“She was not expelled. She was discouraged from going to school at this point. The school helped her to avoid further trouble,” Dela Cerna said.
Officials of the Archdiocese of Cebu as well as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) urged the public to stop circulating the sex video to put an end to the issue.
The parties who uploaded the video without permission as well as anyone who “shares, reproduce, or sells” the sex video without the consent of Mia and her ex-boyfriend can be held liable of violating Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 said Earl Bonachita, IBP Cebu city chapter president.
Sitting behind a desk in her lawyer’s office, Mia answered queries of news reporters with her back partly turned to avoid accidental photos that would reveal her identity.
She said the video was taken with her consent two years ago by her boyfriend at the time. He used his cellphone, which she said was later stolen.
Unidentified parties uploaded the video, which circulated last year yet, ending up permanently lodged in some pornography sites.
“Nauwaw ko. Pero unsaon ta man nga naa naman na. Dawaton na lang nato ang sulti sa mga tawo. (I feel ashamed. But what can I do, it’s already there. I just have to accept whatever remarks people have about me),” Mia said.
Asked if she regretted her action, the student said “no” because it was a “private video just for us.”
“Wala ko nagmahay kay amo ra man gyud unta to. (I don’t have regrets since the sex video was supposed to be for our private use).”
She issued an appeal for people to stop spreading the video and copying it.
The student surfaced amid rumors yesterday that she had tried to commit suicide. She denied any such plan.
“I have not reached the point of taking my life. I made a mistake, why should I make another one?“ she said in Cebuano.
Her family who lives in another province is aware of the scandal, she said.
She and her former boyfriend used to live in the same boarding house in Cebu.
According to Mia, the young man got drunk and lost his cellphone during a drinking session with friends three months after they broke up two years ago.
The video caused an uproar in the university in January because she was wearing her school uniform and ID during the sexual encounter that was recorded.
On Feb. 5, the university announced that it was suspending school rules on the wearing of prescribed uniforms for males and females until further notice.
They were acting on complaints that other students were heckled or insulted by passersby in public places and in jeepneys where students were recognized by their school uniform.
“We all make mistakes. I have learned a lot from this,(Dako kog nakat-onan nga lesson ani)” said Mia, who is in her senior year.
Mia said she was thankful for the support of schoolmates and some school officials.
She said that whatever is the decision of university officials about being allowed to graduate, she would accept it.
Dela Cerna, who is also legal counsel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7), said his client will not take legal action at this point .
He said they are still trying to find out who uploaded the video.With Marian Z. Codilla and Chito Aragon