Child rights advocates on Wednesday urged authorities to look into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment at the state-run Philippine High School for the Arts.
The Child Rights Network said it was appalled by a recent Vice World News report that brought up an "entrenched culture of sexual, physical and emotional abuse impacting generations of children", based on interviews with students and alumni who claimed to have fallen victim.
The group called on school administrators and concerned government agencies to make systemic changes in addressing the matter.
"The disclosures revealed in the VICE report reveal cracks in the way PHSA – and possibly other educational institutions – implement child protection policies, practices, and processes," it said, noting how a "repeated failure" of the school's administration to tend to the concerns of students shows that the mechanisms currently in place are "being perfunctorily implemented, or in worse cases, totally set aside."
The Vice News report showed how teachers "often hung out and slept in students’ dormitories", which it said enabled such inappropriate circumstances.
Victims spoke of a "strong system of seniority and hierarchy" that allowed harsh treatment of students to become normalized, supposedly as a way of preparing them for the cutthroat arts industry.
"Our very own educational and cultural agencies should not be aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of students," it said.
Addressing the viral report, PHSA in a statement vowed to provide students a "safe learning environment" and said it "sympathizes" with the alumni who complained, urging them to report it to the school's designated committees.
However, it took issue with being called a "haven for abuse", saying it was "unfair"."Please be assured all our school personnel are working hand in hand towards providing our students a safe learning environment, whether online or in Makiling," it added.