One of the top high schools in the Philippines has been flippant on whether or not six of their graduating students will walk after they were caught sharing online lewd photos and videos of their female schoolmates without the latters' consent.
After several months of investigation, the Philippine Science High School’s (PSHS) Discipline and Management Committees found six male students liable for multiple “level 3” or serious offences. The school’s code of conduct indicates that students who commit two “level 3” offences within the school year may have their scholarship revoked, and they would be deemed ineligible for graduation.
Despite the committees’ recommendation for the students to be barred from graduation, and instead receive letters of completion, the school’s board of trustees decided to let the accused students graduate anyway.
This decision was met with strong opposition from concerned students of the graduating batch, who released an official statement against the six students who had kept lewd, voyeuristic images of their female schoolmates which they then uploaded and shared online.
“[The board’s decision] is a manifestation of the rampant silencing of victims of sexual harassment and cybercrime done in order to protect the reputation and good name of those who have wronged them,” the statement said.
Now, in light of the backlash, the board is reconsidering its decision, which was reaffirmed by ex officio member of the school board and Senator Bam Aquino in a statement yesterday.
“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,” Aquino affirmed on Twitter in response to a user who introduced herself as an alumna of PSHS who had shared parts of the students’ official statement.
Philippine social media users were quick to call out the school’s inability to deliver justice while praising the school's students for taking action.
The Philippine Science High Schools are considered to be among the best in the country and regarded as one of the leading high schools in the ASEAN region, which is why their inability to take a stance on this matter has been so troubling.
"The board is carefully and judiciously studying the matter. At this time, no final resolution is yet reached but will do so before graduation," PSHS Executive Director Lilia Habacon said in a text message to Rappler on Thursday afternoon.
It seems the board is cutting it close in reaching a verdict, as the batch’s graduation date is set for Wednesday, May 29.