QC school defies court order to release salutatorian's documents

MANILA, Philippines – The Santo Niño Parochial School (SNPS) in Quezon City still refused to release Krisel Mallari's certificate of good moral character on Wednesday, July 29, defying a Court of Appeals (CA) order that ruled in favor of the student.

Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta told Rappler in a phone interview that Mallari, her father, and two PAO lawyers went to the school past 3 pm Wednesday.

The lawyers informed Acosta that the school still refused to release the certificate – a requirement for Mallari to enter the accountancy program of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where she already reserved a slot.

"Walang reason, discretion nilang 'di magbigay," Acosta said when asked what reason the school gave for withholding the document despite the court order. (They gave no reason, it's their discretion not to release it.)

Child abuse?

Acosta said they plan to file on Thursday, July 30, a motion for the CA Second Division to cite the Santo Niño Parochial School in contempt.

During her high school graduation on March 21, Mallari delivered a speech hinting on her school's lack of fairness instead of giving just the assigned "welcome remarks." Since then, the school has refused to release her certificate of good moral character.

Represented by PAO, Mallari first brought the issue to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC). She elevated the complaint to the CA after RTC Branch 216 ruled in favor of the school twice.

The CA on Wednesday emphasized that the school should issue the certificate immediately since classes in UST will start in August and "time is of the essence."

The appellate court also slammed the school for its "unreasonable non-issuance" of the certificate which displayed "its chronic lack of concern to a child who it has reared for 11 years."

"Krisel, just like any other child, commits transgressions and therefore, must be disciplined. However, the manner by which she is disciplined should not go to the extent of spoiling or destroying her dreams and aspirations," the CA order read.

Acosta said it has been tough for Mallari lately, especially since classes in UST will begin soon.

"Ang mata [niya], malalim, 'di pa nakakatulog nang maayos, kinakabahan sa buhay," the lawyer described the student. (She hasn't slept well, she's worried about her life.)

Aside from the non-issuance of the certificate, Acosta said another issue is the "wrong computation" of Mallari's grades in her report card. 

But all they're asking for now is for the school to issue the certificate so everyone can already move on from the issue.

"Iyon na lang, para maka-move on siya. At saka minor 'tong batang 'to, ibang usapan 'to," she added. (We only want that so she can already move on. And this girl is a minor, that's a different issue)

Acosta said her office will study whether the school is violating any provision of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Rappler repeatedly called the school for comment, but the calls remained unanswered as of this posting. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.