Students seek apology, P1.5 million from STC
A public apology, reimbursement of tuition and other school fees and P1.5 million in damages.
These were the demands listed by four students who were barred from attending last month’s graduation ceremonies at the St. Theresa’s College (STC), their lawyer said yesterday.
STC lawyers said they welcomed the complaint filed by the students before a Regional Trial Court, but reiterated that the students cannot expect an apology from the private school.
The students and their parents yesterday filed an amended complaint against STC .
Their lawyer Cornelio Mercado said the school must pay “for the injury it inflicted in reckless fashion” on the students.
He said when graduation fees were paid and invitations were issued to the students, STC was contractually and morally bound to see to it that the students join the graduation march.
“But the school disowned the students by banning them from joining the march. Once found that their actuations were unjust, defendants must hold and bear all expenses for the plaintiff minors’ deserved march,” Mercado said.
He said STC should also be required to return all tuition, matriculation, and other fees paid by the four girls from first year to fourth year.
Named defendants in the lawsuit were STC High School Department represented by Sister Celeste Ma. Purisima Pe, the school principal; Asst. Principal Mussolini Yap; Marnie Racaza, moderator of student affairs; Kristine Rose Ligot, discipline in charge; and Edita Josephine Yu, homeroom adviser.
The students were allowed to graduated but barred from attending the commencement exercise as punishment for uploading bikini photos of themselves in their Facebook accounts.
The school said they engaged in immoral and obscene behavior.
STC lawyer Joan Largo said the girls can’t expect a public apology from the school.
“STC can’t apologize. If there would be a public apology, it should be to STC, not from STC,” Largo told Cebu Daily News.
She said if only STC can show the photos of the girls, one would understand that the school was compassionate enough to allow the students to graduate.
Largo said every measure of due process was made before the school sanctioned the girls.
“STC was simply doing what is right. It’s duty was to enforce what is in its manual,” she said.
Largo said STC will file counterclaims against the girls for damaging the school’s reputation.
She said the amount they will seek wouldn’t be more than the amount sought by the students.
Five girls were punished. Two of them sued in court seeking to stop the school from barring their participation in the March 30 graduation rites.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Wilfredo Navarro of Branch 19 issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) but school officials still didn’t allow the students to attend the commencement rites. The judge later inhibited himself from further handling the case and castigated STC’s lawyer Romeo Balili for advising the school to defy his order.
The case was raffled off to RTC Judge Manuel Patalinghug of Branch 22 last Tuesday.
Largo said she doesn’t know “the legal and factual basis” of the reimbursement claims.
“It wasn’t STC who made public (the sanction against the students). STC wanted to settle it within the walls of the schools,” she said.
The family of one of the girls filed a motion to cite STC official in contempt of court for not obeying the restraining order.
Mercado said the STC officials acted as if they were above the law when they defied the TRO issued by the court.
But STC lawyers said disobedience to a lawful order of the court is only applicable to “valid orders.”
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