Ateneo de Zamboanga officials, faculty accused of child abuseBy Julie S. Alipala |Inquirer Mindanao
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines— The parents of a boy afflicted with scoliosis have accused four officials and five teachers of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University with child abuse and are demanding P2 million in damages.
Alfredo Jimenez, lawyer of the boy’s parents, said ADZU elementary principal Pilar Agraviador, assistant principal Nimfa Mabalot, student services director Marilou Drapiza, guidance counsellor Benjamin Miranda, and teachers Jennyvic Arcillas, Noel Malcampo, Jennifer Pingos, Rosel Lubrica and Maria Doriza Longakit were the respondents in a complaint filed at the Zamboanga City Prosecutor’s Office.
Jimenez said the boy’s parents were seeking moral and civil damages “with the prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and damages amounting to P2 Million.”
The Catholic university refused to issue a statement on the accusations. An ADZU official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said their lawyer had asked them not to say anything about the case.
The victim of the alleged abuse is a 12-year-old sixth grader who has scoliosis, a lateral curvature of the spine.
“These abuses started last 2012 and committed first by this computer teacher Longakit. The boy was subjected to verbal abuse, ridicule and his physical condition was used by this teacher. His condition was even used as an example to her computer class labeling the boy before the eyes of his classmates as the best example of computer health risk,” Jimenez said.
The boy has been wearing braces from the waistline to the neck following an accident when he was nine years old.
“The boy was further humiliated when the same teacher prompted the boy to walk faster while they were transferring to a classroom which is about 200 meters from the room where they came from. She is a teacher and she knows the physical condition of the boy yet she kept ordering the boy to hurry up so as not to cause delay,” Jimenez said.
Longakit gave the boy a grade of zero after refusing to acknowledge the boy’s project, which was supposedly a graded project or activity and not a quiz.
Her demeanor, Jimenez said, forced the boy’s parents to report the case to the Commision on Human Rights in September last year.
Frederick Ian Capin, a lawyer and officer-in-charge of the Western Mindanao office of the CHR, confirmed that his office received a complaint “involving teachers and a principal of a prestigious school in this city about child abuse” last year and that they referred the child abuse case to the Prosecutors’ Office last May 8.
Jimenez said the boy was a consistent honor student but was suddenly taken out from the honors list when other teachers—Drapiza and Miranda—falsely accused him of plagiarism in a poster-making contest during the observance of National Teachers Month and World Teachers’ Day in September last year.
The boy won first place in the elimination round and his entry was supposedly submitted for national-level competition, but during the validation, the principal questioned the originality of the boy’s drawing.
“Agraviador, the principal, accused the boy of plagiarism. How could that be when the boy used the Internet Google photo as his inspiration in his poster. He didn’t copy it,” Jimenez said.
The principal issued a certification that the boy’s poster was a product of plagiarism after Miranda and Drapiza put down in writing their claims and filed a report to the Disciplinary Board on November 23, 2012.
This claim was supported by Arcillas, Malcampo, Pingos and Lubrica.
The boy later earned a D grade, was suspended for two days and taken off the honors list.
Jimenez said there were many other reports about child abuse, particularly verbal, committed by the teachers but only the boy’s parents stood their ground and pursued the case following CHR’s investigation.
The CHR’s recommendation showed that ADZU teachers and school officials violated Republic Act 7610, also known as “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”