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  • Pisay Board Reverses Decision; Bans Seniors from Graduation Over Lewd Photos

    Amidst the public clamor to uphold the integrity of the school and the victims' dignity, the Philippine Science High School's Board of Trustees reversed its original decision.
    by Rachel Perez .
Pisay Board Reverses Decision; Bans Seniors from Graduation Over Lewd Photos
PHOTO BY Image by McElspeth from Pixabay
  • On the eve of the graduation ceremonies of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) seniors, the school's Board of Trustees reversed its initial decision and barred from graduating six senior male students who allegedly uploaded sensitive photos of their female batchmates online.

    As of press time, there has not been an official statement from the school, but Rappler and GMA News' sources confirmed that the PSHS Board of Trustees had reached a decision on Tuesday night, May 28, 2019. All six male students involved will not be allowed to participate at the PSHS's seniors graduation rites today, May 29.

    "None of them will march. Three will get diplomas while three will get certificates of completion only — but only after requirements that are part of penalty are completed or served," Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña told ABS-CBN News via text message. Dela Peña is also the ex-officio chairman of the PSHS Board of Trustees.

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    GMA News explained that the Board of Trustees reviewed the case and discussed the matters regarding the students' participation in the graduation rites today, and whether to give them diplomas or certificate of completion separately. The case for each male student guilty of violating the school's code of conduct was also treated independently.

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    The Board of Trustees' original decision, dated May 17, 2019, initially ignored the recommended sanctions of the school's Discipline and Management Committees that the male students should not be allowed to graduate and only be given certificates of completion instead of diplomas. The committees are composed of school officials, students, teachers, and parents.

    The reversal of the board's decision and compliance to the Discipline and Management Committees' recommended sanctions for the offenders came after PSHS students, alumni, faculty, and parents publicly condemned the first decision and staged a protest inside the campus on May 24, 2019.

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    These events are rooted from the unfortunate incident that only came to light earlier this year. After months of investigation, the male students were found to have uploaded and shared lewd photos of their underage girlfriends — also PSHS students — online two years ago.

    In an interview with GMA News, one of the victims' parents said that the posting of the female student's private photos began in early 2017, to 2018. The parent said their family received a letter about the ongoing investigation and that they were invited to attend a session where their daughter would be interviewed.

    The male students were found liable for multiple Level 3 offenses on PSHS's code of conduct after photos and videos of female students spread online without the girls' consent. Their actions were also a violation of Republic Act No. 9995, otherwise known as the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, and Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children of 2004.

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    The public outcry stressed that the board's original decision was a disgrace to the school's integrity and an injustice to the victims. In a statement sent to the press, Vice President Leni Robredo called for appropriate sanctions on the PSHS male scholars involved in the incident.

    "If we are to find a way forward, to a society where both women and men can truly have an equal opportunity to be the best we can be, then we must make the conscious, if difficult, choice to change that culture," she said as published in Inquirer.

    Robredo added that it begins with "calling out behavior that is disrespectful and abusive to women, and ensuring that it is appropriately sanctioned." It also involves not making excuses for or justifying the acts but recognizing the injustice in it and taking concrete steps to ensure no girl or women should fall victim to it again.

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