UST probes students, professor tagged in leaked group chat

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
UST probes students, professor tagged in leaked group chat
This undated photo shows the University of Santo Tomas Grandstand.
University of Santo Tomas / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The University of Santo Tomas is investigating students and a professor tagged in a supposedly leaked Facebook group chat where women's photos and videos were shared without their consent.

The probe comes on the heels of anonymous accusations on social media of men from the university sharing the photos and videos, which may include those of minors.

“In response, we have immediately placed the students and faculty member under administrative investigation,” the UST Faculty of Engineering said in an official statement.

“We commit to a fair and timely resolution of the issues, observing the due process but without compromising the transformative nature of Thomasian education,” it added.

On Thursday, an anonymous Twitter account with username “leaks_anon” claimed that some male students of UST repeatedly shared private photos and videos of students in a Facebook group chat without the women’s consent. They allegedly had an online drive containing the photos and videos not just of UST students but also minors from other schools in Metro Manila.

The online user claimed that the people behind the group chat were Engineering students and a professor of UST.

Alvin Kasiban, a UST alumnus and a photographer for a national daily, who was tagged in a separate leaked chat has admitted being in the chat group but denied sharing any content.

READ: ‘Only at receiving end of conversation,’ UST alum tagged in leaked chat says

The online user, however, countered Kabisan's claims that he did not share any photos of women as supposed screenshots of a leaked conversation with a certain "EZ" showed that he did take photos and shared them.

“You're just sorry you got caught,” the anonymous user said.

In its statement, the UST Faculty of Engineering said that the university “does not condone any inappropriate conduct exhibited by students or teachers.”

It added that it is “saddened by the alleged involvement of its students and faculty member in an online misbehavior.”

“It is committed to maintain a learning environment that develops character, attitude values based on Catholic teaching,” it also said.

Gabriela Women's Party last week condemned the sharing of the private photos and videos and opened its lines to the victims “to discuss the possible courses of action.”

READ: Gabriela to help victims of chat group that shared their private photos, videos

Under the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, capturing and sharing "an image of the private area of a person/s such as the naked or undergarment clad genitals, public area, buttocks or female breast without the consent of the person/s involved and under circumstances in which the person/s has/have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

RELATED: ‘Weinstein effect’ reaches Philippines, artists accused of sexual misconduct

A new "Bawal Bastos" law, officially the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act, also penalizes "uploading and sharing without the consent of the victim, any form of media that contains photos, voice or video with sexual content."

Late last month, the Philippine Science High School barred six male students accused of posting lewd photos of their female schoolmates from attending the school's graduation rites.

"None of them will march. Three will get diplomas while three will get certificates of completion only—but only after requirements that are part of penalty are completed or served," Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña said then.

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