High school girl banned from graduation over Facebook 'bikini photo': Philippines

CEBU CITY, Philippines - For posing in a bikini, and posting photos in her Facebook account, a 16-year-old girl won't be allowed to attend her graduation ceremony on Friday.

The punishment meted by St. Theresa's College high school was called "too harsh" and "unjust" by her mother, a resident of Lapu-Lapu City, who sued officials of the private Catholic school.

Regional Trial Court Judge Wilfredo Navarro Tuesday ordered the school to show him a copy of the photos, and the Student Handbook which bans several actions, including "engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts."

"I will have my own standards on whether or not it is lewd," said the judge in a court hearing on the mother's petition of injunction and damages.

His decision will have to be made soon if the student hopes to join her graduation class in marching up the stage to receive a diploma on March 30.

Cebu Daily News is withholding the identities of mother and daughter since the student is a minor.

The girl will be allowed to graduate but is barred from joining the commencement exercise on Friday.

The family's lawyer Enrique Lacerna said the girl was photographed in a "family-related outing" and was "not given a chance to answer the allegations" when she was meted the sanctions in a notice last March 1.

The student was cited for violating five provisions in the STC Student Handbook, including a rule against "posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure."

Lawyer Romeo Balili, counsel for STC, said the private school is just doing what is right in disciplining its students.

"STC is a Catholic school governed by the teachings of the Catholic Church. We have to see to it that values are formed," Balili told reporters after the hearing.

"We are not happy with the penalty but we are forced to impose it because we have to form the values of children."

Four other STC graduating students are barred from attending the commencement exercises on Friday for alleged violation of school's rules.

Their lawyer Cornelio Mercado, said he will formally ask the court to allow them to intervene in the case.

"There were allegations (by school officials) that that there are photos showing the students wearing bikini tops and a towel," Mercado said, including one wearing a sleeveless top with her bra visible during the Sinulog festival.

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