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Cebu school defies court, won’t let students attend graduation

CEBU CITY, Philippines—A school here defied a court order to allow two of its graduating high school students to attend commencement exercises after the students were barred from doing so by school authorities over a Facebook posting of  pictures showing the girls in bikinis.

The St. Theresa’s College (STC) refused to heed the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Wilfredo Navarro, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 19, that stopped the school from barring the 16-year-old girls from attending their graduation rites Friday.

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The two students and their parents were barred by school guards from entering the campus before the 3 p.m. start of graduation ceremonies.

They were told they couldn’t enter because they didn’t have invitations and car passes. The school issued invitations to families of graduating students except for those of the two controversial students, who were penalized for what school officials described as “obscene” pictures.

Court representatives were also barred from entering the school. Court employee Rey Christian Mata and Sheriff Manuel Gimeno arrived at the school about 3 p.m. to present a copy of the TRO to school officials but they were not allowed to come in.

The two waited for 30 minutes and left after that.

Mata said they first delivered the TRO to the school Thursday evening but they were told to return Friday to explain the court order to the school officials.

The father of one of the students told the Inquirer that he and the parents of the other student went to the school Friday morning to ask for copies of graduation programs but they were ignored.

When they returned to the school in the afternoon, they were barred from entering the school premises.

“We arrived at around 2 p.m. at the school just in time for the graduation ceremonies but the security guard told us that there was an order from the school administrator not to allow us to enter the campus,” he said.

He said the school decision was unjustifiable since the students’ right to due process was violated.

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The father said he feared the experience would have a psychological impact on his daughter.

“I thought STC is a motherly institution. We will continue the case to prove our point that there was really an offense,” he said.

“The damage has been done. We are very exhausted but we will continue to fight,” said the father.

The two girls were penalized for posting pictures of their beach outing which showed them in bikinis.

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TAGS: Bikini, Catholic, Cebu, Facebook, Human rights, Morality, Photo, Religion, School, St. Theresa’s College, Youth
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