MANILA -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday said it will seek a "more defined child protection policy" following the circulation of lewd photos of several underage students from the Philippine Science High School (PSHS).
The photos of the girls were uploaded online by their former boyfriends, 6 PSHS seniors, who were barred from their graduation rites, following protests by classmates and the alumni association.
The CHR learned of the incident as early as March and offered to train students and parents on child rights, and the faculty on how to handle cases of abuse, but "none of these pushed through," said agency spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia.
"What is clear, however, is that there is a need for a more defined child protection policy to be in place, which also covers better case management for similar instances," she said in a statement.
De Guia, citing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Philippines signed, noted that "in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration."
"This means that, school officials must be reminded that in carrying out sanctions, the children’s present and future life—their general welfare, safety, and development—must always be put in mind," she said.
The CHR, she said, will continue engaging PSHS and other academic institutions "in ensuring that schools remain to be safe spaces for children to learn and develop."
"For in the end, excellence must not only translate to academic laurels, but to a sense of respect for human rights and dignity," she added.