4 teachers in Kidapawan acquitted of child abuse raps

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) – Four teachers of a local high school were acquitted of child abuse in a decision promulgated early this month by Judge Arvin Sadiri Balagot of Regional Trial Court branch 17.

Arc at the entrance to Kidapawan City. MindaNews photo by GEONARRI SOLMERANO

The court cleared Leah Godoy, principal of the Amas National High School, and teachers Maria Fe Insular, Rachel Mamacus, and Ferdinand Begornia.

The case stemmed from the school’s refusal to admit “Miss AAA” as a fourth year student in 2007 for failing in three subjects in second year.

“Miss AAA,” then a 16-year-old, filed a complaint at the Kidapawan City Prosecutor’s Office in 2007 against her second year adviser Insular, third year adviser Begornia, Godoy and Mamacus.

The prosecutor said the school’s decision forced the complainant “to enroll in other high school, which acts caused emotional and psychological distress.”

But the teachers countered that “an error was committed” and the complainant should not have been admitted in third year for getting a grade of 70, a failing mark, in English, Science and Mathematics in second year.

The court asked, “Was the refusal unjustified and was done to degrade or demean Miss AAA?”

The court, citing DepEd Order Number 35, Series of 2005, on Promotion and Retention of a student, said, “A student shall be retained in the year level if he/she incurs failures of three units or more during the regular school year.”

It added, “Since Miss AAA failed in three of her subjects in second year, then, the refusal to admit her as a fourth year student is in accord with the DepEd regulation. That being so, then, it is quite farfetched to consider the refusal as child abuse.”

But while the court acquitted the accused, it ordered Insular, the adviser, to pay “Miss AAA” civil damages for not informing the student of her failing grades.

Insular argued it was not in her subject that “Miss AAA” failed. However, the court said it was her duty as adviser to inform the complainant of her failing grades and arrange a possible summer makeup class.

The mother of “Miss AAA” said they already accepted the court’s decision and have no plan to file an appeal. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)