02 August 2015

Resolving the Sto. Niño Parochial School v Krisel Mallari Row

Image captured from YouTube video.

I am sure that most of you will to varying degrees be familiar with the case of this high school salutatorian by the name of Krisel Mallari who was restrained by officials from criticising her school, the Sto. Niño Parochial School, while she was delivering the salutatory remarks during the commencement exercises last summer.

So the case made the national news once but has since dragged on and on. Why TV Patrol considers this story worthy of national attention, I do not have the foggiest. In fact, I restrain myself from booing and hissing every time there is another instalment to this tiresome saga.

At the moment, Mallari has asked the Court of Appeals to cite her alma mater for contempt after officials continue to refuse to issue her a certificate of good moral character despite a court order to do so. Why they do, only the good Lord and the officials themselves know.

The said certificate, as you in most probability have figured out by now, is a standard requirement for college application. Without it, Mallari will not gain acceptance into most higher education institutions.

My own personal take on this is that the sooner the school sees the last of Mallari, the better it will be for all parties concerned. It is the new school year, after all; and I know from experience that enough happens on a daily basis to warrant attention without the distraction of a matter from the previous school year.

Despite the sympathy that Mallari earned from her story making the national news, I personally think that the school was well within its rights to stop her from using the salutatory address to launch a tirade against it.

The salutatory address is really the welcome address and is traditionally assigned to the second ranking student of the graduating class to deliver. These remarks are essentially made to set the tone for the rest of the graduation ceremonies.

Therefore, to step out of this welcoming spirit expected of an address for a ceremony that is effectively the last day the graduating students come together as a batch is inappropriate to say the least. A speech of the tone such as Mallari’s effectively spoils what ought to be a fond send-off for the graduating class.

However, the question that Sto. Niño Parochial School really needs to ask itself relevant to the issuance of a certificate of good moral character is if the inappropriateness of her actions during the commencement exercises was the same as being immoral?

She tried to deliver a different speech from what the school had approved, yes; but all I see is a young woman who was probably just letting off steam and who would probably even have painted a picture of herself as sour grapes had she been allowed to continue with her speech.

I have personal knowledge of cases similar to this; and in one case the salutatorian was even heckled by some of her own batch mates. The fact that Mallari felt strongly about her convictions did not mean that what she had to say would pass an examination by a court of law. More importantly, there was no guarantee that what she had to say would even pass an examination by her own peers.

Thus, the school could have allowed her to say what she had to say and not have ended up worse for wear.

In a broad sense, morality is really correct behaviour according to an established set of principles generally acceptable to society. Was deviating from an approved speech and arguably attempting to spoil an occasion an act of immorality which, we all assume, is why the school refuses to issue Mallari her certificate of good moral character?

Catholic Schools, to avoid litigation, are usually explicit in stating offences students can commit that they will consider severe enough to be called immoral: pre-marital sex, drugs, theft or bringing to school lethal weapons, to name but a few.

I very much doubt that even Sto. Niño Parochial School has it written in its Student Handbook that delivering an ill-advised speech during the commencement exercises is considered immoral.

The aforementioned cases are severe enough to warrant expulsion of the errant students. Thus, it is almost implicit that all students who do make it to graduation have met the minimum moral standards required by the school.

What then is the big to-do about Mallari’s certificate of good moral character? Schools usually issue different certificates of good moral character to those whose behaviour in school had been exemplary from those who had been royal pains in the rectum.

What is stopping the school from issuing a suitably vague and non-committal certificate? Something like this respects the sensitivities of school officials offended by Mallari’s actions while at the same time allowing the student to move on with her life. Likewise, the school moves on with its own.

Meanwhile, the tiresome saga goes on. Personally, I think that what the school is succeeding in doing by being so stubborn is only to paint a negative picture of itself. Has it even paused for a moment to wonder if it is at all even Christian to stand in the way of one of its own alumna from getting a university education?

Mallari is young; and who knows, maybe in due time she will come to realise that, perhaps, there could have been a better venue to air her gripes than her own commencement exercises.

The school has made its point! Now it is time to resolve this issue and the only way to do it and avoid the ire of the court is to issue the damned certificate and say ta-ta!  Now na!




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