Discrimination and students’ rights in STC Cebu

This is the press statement of College Editors Guild of the Philippines

A clear line exists between upholding an academic institution’s values on one hand, and observing due process and students’ rights on the other.

St. Theresa’s College (STC) could have shown that it could impart moral values while observing due process and respecting student’s rights

In fact, we, in the College Editors Guild of the Philippines – Visayas believe the posting in Facebook of photos of high school students clad in bikinis in a resort could have been an opportunity for STC. The school could have demonstrated that due process and student’s rights are part of its values.

Unfortunately, STC failed when it decided to deny graduation rites to supposedly erring students.

We commend the court ruling of Judge Wilfredo Fiel Navarro of the Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) for giving justice to the case of the students. The judge, more than the mentors in the school, saw that the concerned were still minors and the rash judgement and punishment would do more harm than good.

But we condemn STC’s defiance to the court order. Adding to the unjust treatment to the students, they also did not allow them to go inside the school gates during the graduation day. They were treated like persona non grata; they were denied even an entrance to the school they have been studying in since elementary school.

Being a former Theresian, I am distressed that STC saw nothing wrong in the non-observance of due process and disrespect for student’s rights in upholding conservative values. I am outraged at the thought that the four walls that academically molded me in my early years have no regard whatsoever for genuine rights for students and is blinded by their self righteous morals.

This incident demonstrates the repressive character of Philippine education. There is a need for a truly scientific, mass oriented education that eliminates the kind of discrimination that STC has shown in this case.

We call for the passage of HB 4842 or Student’s Rights Act of Kabataan Partylist. There is an immediate need for a stronger pro-student legislation which not only caters to tertiary students but also to secondary and basic education levels. It gives the right to non-discrimination and also the right to due process in disciplinary proceedings.

But legislation is not enough. We further call on students to be critical and to actively assert for their rights to abolish such repressive policies.