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  • Pisay Scholars Protest Graduation of Seniors Who Shared Lewd Photos Online

    The students allegedly spread sensitive photos of their former girlfriends online without the girls' consent.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • Current and former students of the Philippine Science High School, along with their parents, staged a protest inside the campus on Thursday, May 23, 2019, after the school’s board of trustees (BOT) allowed six senior high school students to graduate despite allegedly uploading sensitive photos of their female batchmates online. (Graduation ceremony is scheduled on May 29.)

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    Early this year, the school's management (ManCom) and discipline committees composed of school officials, students, teachers, and parents agreed that the six male students should not be allowed to graduate after they were found to have uploaded and shared lewd photos of their underage girlfriends — also PSHS students — online two years ago. They recommended the students be given certificates of completion instead, according to a report by Rappler.

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    The dissemination of the photos only came to light earlier this year. After months of investigation, the school committees found the male students liable for multiple “level 3” offenses after photos and videos of female students spread online without the girls’ consent.

    According to Rappler, PSHS’s code of conduct indicates that having more than one level 3 offense would make a student ineligible for graduation. But according to reports, the management committee’s decision to prohibit the six students from graduating was overturned by the BOT.

    "As per PSHS System Board of Trustees (BOT)’s resolution dated May 17, 2019, the BOT actually concurred with the ManCom’s appreciation of the level of the offense…However, while the ManCom counted [every] single act as one count of Level III offense, the BOT considered all acts as one Level III offense for each student. With this, the students are eligible for graduation,” said the PSHS ManCom in a statement.

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    Offenses criminal in nature

    In another statement uploaded on a Facebook page, the PSHS-ManCom and the Executive Parent-Teachers Council (EPTC) said the BOT’s actions go against the core values of PSHS including the pursuit of truth, integrity, respect, and responsibility.

    "The recent decision of the BOT to reverse the findings of the PSHS Management Committee in connection with the voyeurism, sexual harassment, lewd acts, grave threats, and possibly criminal acts by a cabal, nay a syndicate of students belonging to Batch 2019 is a travesty to all of the above core values, now seemingly mere empty rhetoric," read the statement.

    The statement also claimed that the acts committed by the male students were "criminal in nature," and could be constituted as a cybercrime, citing violations of R.A. 9995, otherwise known as the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, and R.A. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children.

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    The Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism act prohibits the distribution and reproduction of photos and videos of a person or group of persons performing sexual acts or any similar activity, as well as capturing a person’s sensitive body parts without that person’s consent. The distribution includes VCD/DVDs, the Internet, cellular phones, and other similar means or devices.

    In an interview with GMA News Online, one of the victims’ parents said that the posting of private photos had begun in early 2017 to 2018. The parent said their family received a letter about the ongoing investigation and invited them to attend a session where their daughter would be interviewed.

    The parent said their daughter was aware of the other female victims, one of whom was her friend. “We’ve discussed it privately and within the family,” the parent said. “She knows she’s been abused, she knows she needs to fight for her rights, she knows she has all our support.”

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    Final resolution expected before graduation

    Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology and an ex-officio member of the BOT said on Twitter that the trustees are reviewing the matter. Aquino also said that he will vote in favor of the ManCom’s earlier decision.

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    “My representative raised the issue with me and the matter is now up for reconsideration. We will vote in favor of the recommendation of the Discipline Committee and Management Committee…which is not to allow the identified students to graduate based on the degree of their offenses and previous decisions in similar cases," Sen. Aquino wrote.

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