Cebu girl sues school over Facebook bikini photo punishment

Posted at 03/28/2012 11:53 PM | Updated as of 03/29/2012 7:12 PM

CEBU, Philippines - A teenager in Cebu is suing her exclusive Catholic girls school after it punished the student for posting a Facebook picture of herself reportedly in a bikini, a court said Wednesday.

Saint Theresa's College in the central city of Cebu said the 16-year-old had broken a rule which bans posting Internet pictures that show "ample body exposure", and barred the student from her graduation ceremony.

The girl's family on Tuesday filed a civil suit at a Cebu court, which said the teenager had "suffered sleepless nights" since being punished, court officials said.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic and the church is hugely influential, regularly campaigning against divorce and birth control.

The family's suit asked the court to rule that the school must allow the girl to take part in the graduation ceremony on Friday, and sought unspecified damages.

It also argued the photo of the girl, in which newspaper reports said she was wearing a bikini at a party, was not lewd and said her Facebook account was private with access limited only to friends.

School lawyer Romeo Balili insisted due process was observed in the case.

"In order to maintain the morality of the school there were rules and regulations issued to the students," he told reporters.

In Manila, Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said the national government would look into the case to see if any laws might have been violated.