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DepEd probes Argao high school ‘sex scandal’

First Posted 11:33:00 07/24/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - Investigators from the Department of Education (DepEd) in Cebu provinces started its investigation yesterday on the alleged 'sex scandal' involving students from Argao National High School.

Witnesses said that the students in three pairs had engaged in sexual activities on Monday afternoon, while somebody in the group had used a cellular phone to video the sexual activities at the mezzanine of the old tourism building of the town.

Natividad Villegas, assistant school principal, yesterday denied that the allegations of sexual activities in an abandoned building in Argao town, some 66 km from Cebu City.

But, Villegas said, seven students were being investigated.

He said that of the seven students, who belong to the first year to fourth year classes, only one is 18 years old.

Villegas confirmed that DepEd provincial office sent its legal officer Virgilio Suan, who interviewed the students and their parents.

As of press time, only five students were interviewed. The other two students were expected to show up yesterday afternoon.

"The news is not true because during the investigation, it showed that there's no evidence to show that the students were engaged in sexual activities," Villegas said in Cebuano.

Villegas said they only confirmed that the students were just having their dinner in the old tourism building, which is located near the sea, and the students decided to have a drinking spree.

The building, which is at the back of the municipal hall in Poblacion, a kilometer away from the school campus, which is located in barangay Canbanua.

Villegas said drinking liquor and cutting classes could only be the offenses committed by the students.

She said the provincial DepEd will decide on the sanction.

Dr. Roger Banogbanog, the school principal, recommended the students to transfer to other schools.

But then Villegas said the students are still allowed to continue their studies in the school.

Provincial Board Member Agnes Magpale, chairperson of the committee on women, children and family also ordered the province social welfare personnel to help the minors deal with the situation.

Villegas denial of the allegations was supported by the Cebu Provincial Police Office.

Supt. Erson Digal, CPPO deputy director for operations, said that there was no proof that there was a "sex scandal."

Argao police chief Rodolfo Manatad told Digal that the cell phone only contained video footages of two students kissing.

Digal said that the students were turned over to their school principal, who would decide on the proper sanctions to hand down.

However a witness Enrique Cuizon and his nephew, Alvin, claimed that they saw the lewd acts.

Cuizon told police that they were drinking near the tourism building when the loud group of students in the building caught their attention.

Cuizon said the students were drunk.

Cuizon allegedly went to the mezzanine and saw two pairs of students doing the act while the third pair was only kissing.

He claimed he saw one student recording the acts through his cell phone.

The students requested him to keep watch for four minutes. He said he watched them and left the building after.

The group of noisy students also caught the attention of SPO1 Emmanuel Flores who was then having a picnic with his family near the tourism building.

Flores checked what the noise was about and found the students on the building.

He demanded that they come down from the mezzanine. When the students did not obey, he pulled out his gun to show them that he was a police officer.

Flores detained six students, four others fled. Flores also confiscated four cellular phones from the students.

PO1 Vivian Tamayo of the Argao Police Station, said they turned over the students to the school administration because the students were all minor.

Even if it's true that they were doing scandalous acts and were drunk, they are minors and could not not be held liable under Republic Act 9344. which is ?An Act Establishing a Comprehensive Juvenile Justice and Welfare System."

Tamayo admitted there's no evidence showing the students performing the sexual acts. /With a report from Correspondent Justin Anjuli K. Vestil

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