Court asked: deny petition-A A +A
Saturday, July 14, 2012
ST. THERESA’S College (STC) in Cebu has asked Judge Raphael Yrastorza Sr. to deny the petition seeking to produce Facebook photos showing five of its graduates in bikinis.
The school’s lawyers wrote in reply to the habeas data petition filed by the parents of the young women who were barred from their graduation rites last March.
“The petition is completely devoid of merit,” said lawyers Joan Largo, Bernardito Florido and Marie Aileen Barrientos in their reply.
Judge Yrastorza issued last July 5 a writ of habeas data, which ordered STC and computer teacher Mylene Rheza Escudero bring to court all soft and printed copies, both original and duplicate, of the photos the school officials had deemed obscene and immoral.
Last March 29, the school penalized five graduates for violating a school rule that bans the wearing of skimpy attire. It cited their Facebook photos.
The court issued a temporary restraining order, but the school still barred the five girls from attending their graduation rites on March 30.
Four of the five girls filed a case in court. The two girls later withdrew their case.
Last July 4, the parents of the two minors, through their lawyer Cornelio Mercado, filed the petition for a writ of habeas data against STC, Escudero and several unidentified individuals before the RTC in Cebu City.
Mercado said the Facebook accounts of the girls were intruded upon.
But the school’s lawyers, in their answer, said the petition ought to be dropped since the case is not one where a writ of habeas data may be issued. The remedy is typically resorted to in cases of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances.
“But from the allegations in the petition, it can be clearly gleaned that this is not a case involving extralegal killings or enforced disappearances,” the school lawyers said.
In a press statement, Atty. Largo said the petition is actually “doing Cebu a favor.”
“The petition brings to light the importance of cyber-responsibility that has a far-reaching effect on the parents, minors and the public in general,” she said.
In the age of social media, Largo said, individuals face new challenges that require discernment and guidance.
“Our youth is exposed to the new realities of the cyber age,” Largo pointed out. Unfortunately, she added, some parents are handicapped to help them become responsible “cyber citizens”.
“Let this petition ignite a debate in the community on the importance of cyber responsibility and cyber citizenship,” said Atty. Largo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2012.