STUDENT COUNCIL ALLIANCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

All over the country to change it!
#34-D Matulungin St., Brgy. Central, Quezon City 1100 Member – Young Progressives Southeast Asia Observer – International Union of Socialist Youth

FOR: COMM. LORETTA ANN ROSALES Chairperson Commission on Human Rights RE: PROPOSED GUIDELINES ON THE REVIEW OF STUDENT HANDBOOKS Rationale and Specific Cases: The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is a constitutionally mandated agency tasked for the promotion and protection of human rights. The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides for the creation of the said body tasked to “[i]nvestigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of political rights violations involving civil and political rights” (Art. XIII, Sec. 7). Furthermore, Education Act of 1982 or Batas Pambansa 232, the State is mandated to “[p]romote and safeguard the welfare and interest of the students by defining their rights and obligations, according them privileges, and encouraging the establishment of sound relationships between them and the other members of the school community”. Given these general provisions on that aim to secure students’ rights and welfare, the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare, an alliance of youth and student organizations in the country, have shown in their research that various violations on students’ rights and welfare are still happening across the country. In the recent cases involving high school students from St. Theresa’s College in Cebu City and in Infant Jesus Academy in Marikina, academic institutions may have violated several basic human rights of their students under the guise of academic freedom. STC, in particular, cited that their students have violated provisions of their Student Handbook such that students should not be “posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure” among numerous provisions that impede on the private and personal affairs of their students. STC argued through their counsel Romeo Balili that they are a “Catholic school governed by the teachings of the Catholic Church. We have to see to it that values are formed”. They also add that, “We are not happy with the penalty but we are forced to impose it because we have to form the values of children”. In St. Paul University in Tuguegarao, a young woman was forced by the administration to transfer to another school after getting pregnant. She recalls the incident as:

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STUDENT COUNCIL ALLIANCE OF THE PHILIPPINES
All over the country to change it!
#34-D Matulungin St., Brgy. Central, Quezon City 1100 Member – Young Progressives Southeast Asia Observer – International Union of Socialist Youth

“Noong nabuntis ako, pumapasok pa din ako and then noong 6 months ko na siyempre may mga nakakapansin and then yung isang Instructor ko, tinanong niya ako eh natakot na ako, starting nun hindi na ako pumasok kasi natakot na ako. Dahil hindi na nga ako pumapasok naghinala na yung mga classmates ko hannggang sa nalaman na ng whole administration yung tungkol sa akin. Pinatawag na ako ng dean ko ganun din yung boyfriend ko. Ayun nga may pinapirma siya sa akin na parang nagsasabi doon na hindi na ako babalik sa St. Paul.” The St. Paul University system’s student handbook provides that unmarried pregnant women are to be automatically expelled from the institution. Republic Act 9710, however, describes violence against women (VAWC) as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” specifically referring to “[p]hysical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, and prostitution” (RA 9710, Sec. 4). The Magna Carta for Women also specifically provides that “[e]xpulsion and nonreadmission of women faculty due to pregnancy outside of marriage shall be outlawed. No school shall turn out or refuse admission to a female student solely on the account of her having contracted pregnancy outside of marriage during her term in school” (RA 9710, Sec. 13). The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Department of Education (DepEd) have remained complacent on these issues for the reason that the education system is highly deregulated. No specific and single legislation have been passed by the Congress that addresses students’ rights and welfare violations. Objectives: Except for the Ateneo de Manila University, there is no local Magna Carta for Students provided in Philippine academic institutions. A local Magna Carta for Students is crucial for it ensures that the student handbooks are agreed upon by the administration and the student body as a product of consultative processes and mechanisms to ensure students’ rights within the campus. Student handbooks in majority of the schools are crafted without the concrete participation of the student council. The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, the largest student council and student political party formation in the country, forwards proposed guidelines on the
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tel. (+632) 435-82-27 www.scapnational.wordpress.com scap.neb@gmail.com

STUDENT COUNCIL ALLIANCE OF THE PHILIPPINES
All over the country to change it!
#34-D Matulungin St., Brgy. Central, Quezon City 1100 Member – Young Progressives Southeast Asia Observer – International Union of Socialist Youth

review of student handbooks for secondary and tertiary levels in academic institutions, both private and public. Specifically, the initiative aims to achieve the following: 1. Through the Commission on Human Rights, ensure a proactive Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education in securing that schools’ rules and regulation do not impede on the rights of any citizen. 2. Release a list of common school rules and regulations enshrined in the student handbook that can be considered ‘draconian’ or that which violates students’ rights and welfare. 3. Recommend to the regulatory bodies concerned (CHEd or DepEd) the repeal of specific student handbook provisions in specific schools. Proposed Program of Action: Memorandum of Agreement A memorandum of agreement is to be drafted and signed with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education for the initiative to be headed by the Commission on Human Rights. A specific technical assistant officer has to be appointed responsible for inter-agency coordination. Information Dissemination The concerned regulatory bodies are tasked to mandate secondary tertiary schools to submit their respective student handbooks for review by the Commission on Higher Education. Review Proper The Commission on Human Rights is to consolidate the provisions stipulated in the student handbook and hold a consultation with youth and student groups for comments and recommendations. The CHR however, has the legal mandate to review the student handbooks under the lens of the following:      Bill of Rights, 1987 Philippine Constitution; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Magna Carta for Women; and all other local and international human rights instruments.

Recommendations CHR is to release a recommendation that lists the specific provisions in the student handbooks that are to be repealed to the agencies concerned.
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STUDENT COUNCIL ALLIANCE OF THE PHILIPPINES
All over the country to change it!
#34-D Matulungin St., Brgy. Central, Quezon City 1100 Member – Young Progressives Southeast Asia Observer – International Union of Socialist Youth

Memorandum Orders CHEd and DepEd are to release a memorandum order to be circulated in the concerned academic institutions ordering the repeal of “draconian” rules and regulations.

tel. (+632) 435-82-27 www.scapnational.wordpress.com scap.neb@gmail.com

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