A high school graduate and her guardian recently entered into a compromise agreement with STC.
This leaves two complainants to pursue the court battle against the Catholic school that barred five seniors from attending their March 30 graduation rites for posting “lewd” photos on Facebook and committing other violations of the Student Handbook.
“There was already a settlement with them some days ago. The guardian of one of the students went to the school saying they no longer want to pursue the cases. STC is also willing to desist,” STC lawyer Joan Largo told Cebu Daily News.
The affidavit of desistance was filed by the family with the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office and the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
“In the affidavits and other documents prepared by the family, they affirmed that STC officials did not commit any of the charges and that they are desisting from further prosecuting the cases,” Largo said.
Last month, the main petitioner in the injunction case with damages filed against STC withdrew their case following a similar compromise agreement.
The mother of one of the two remaining complainants, however, is not giving up.
“They have already maligned my daughter’s reputation. Damage has been done. It’s my turn to ask for justice. I will bet with my last centavo to win this case,” the mother told CDN.
She ruled out entering into a compromise with the school.
“No one has ever listened to the voices of the girls. They were outrightly judged and condemned. Still I told my daughter, ‘After all, anak, wearing a bikini is not a sin neither is it immoral,’” the mother said.
Lawyer Cornelio Mercado, counsel of three students who filed an injunction case against STC, and later on criminal charges, said a compromise with STC would be “difficult.”
He said the girls want an apology from the school but it seems that “it’s not workable.”
STC, through its lawyers, repeated that it cannot apologize since it has not committed any wrongdoing.
Mercado said the family of two who withdrew from the case should make sure that their desistance won’t affect the interest of the remaining parties.
Originally, STC prohibited five students from attending their high school graduation rites last March 30 as punishment for “serious” violations of the Student Handbook, including drinking liquor in public, smoking and engaging in “obscene” conduct.
Four of the girls and their parents filed a civil suit in court that issued a temporary restraining order to allow them to join the graduation. The school ignored the TRO.
The petitioner withdrew her interest last month.
Parents and guardians of three girls, on the other hand, filed a criminal complaint with the Cebu City Prosecutors Office for two offenses—grave oral defamation in relation to Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law and violation of Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.
The civil case will be reraffled to another court after Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Manuel Patalinghug decided to inhibit from the case, saying the family court that he resides lacks jurisdiction. RTC Executive Judge Sylvestre Maamo has yet to rule on who will handle the case. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter