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Cebu school speaks up, defends move vs students

/ 09:38 PM March 31, 2012

CEBU CITY, Philipines—A school that is being rocked by controversy for refusing to allow two students to graduate over a Facebook posting of what school officials said were obscene pictures has broken its silence, defending its decision on the students’ case and its refusal to heed a court order compelling the school to let the students attend graduation rites.

Officials of the Catholic-run St. Theresa’s College (STC) said the issue goes beyond wearing bikinis, which the students barred from graduation rites were seen wearing in pictures they posted on their Facebook accounts.

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The pictures, said STC in a statement, were “obscene, sexually provocative and revolting to the sense of any decent person, much more to their mothers.”

Romeo Balili, STC legal counsel, said the school did not commit contempt of court when it refused to heed an order by Judge Wilfredo Navarro compelling the school to let the students attend graduation rites.

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The temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by Navarro to stop the school from barring the students from their graduation ceremony, according to Balili, was defective.

Balili, in a press conference on Friday, said the judge failed to require petitioners, the students’ parents, to post a bond for the TRO.

He said STC had also filed a motion for reconsideration against the TRO, which the court has yet to act upon.

Enrique Lacerna, legal counsel of the family of one of the 16-year-old girls, said bond is required only if the TRO issued by the court would lead to damages to the school.

Lacerna said the family of one of the girls is planning to ask Judge Navarro to cite STC in contempt.

Five students had been barred by STC from attending graduation rites for the Facebook controversy, but only two had filed a case in court.

All five students and their parents, however, proceeded to the school on Friday hoping to get inside to take part in the graduation ceremony. They were all stopped at the gates.

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Sr. Celeste Ma. Purisima Pe, school principal and one of those named in the petition, said allowing the students to attend the graduation rites would mean that the school had exonerated them and would not also be fair to the other students who had not violated school policies.

She denied that the students were not given due process as alleged in the petition. With a report from Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas

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TAGS: Bikini, Catholic, Cebu, Education, Facebook, Graduation, Religion, School, Student
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