(File photo)

Palawan National School (PNS) principal Eduardo Santos clarified Monday in an inquiry at the City Council that the anti-bullying film “Thank God I’m Free” they were campaigning for their students to watch “is not compulsory but voluntary”.

He made the explanation following rants on social media by disappointed parents and complaints sent to the city government last week.

Santos said parents and students were both encouraged to watch the film whose theme is about the prevention of bullying.

Temporarily called off, the feature film will reportedly address the rampant bullying problem that students are experiencing inside the PNS campus.

He said to the City Council that it was filmed inside PNS with his supervision.

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“Although nabawasan ang bullying sa loob ng school ay mayroon pa rin pong gumagawa, which is beyond our control. Kaya nakausap ko ang dati kong students which is sya ang director ng movie, tinanong ko kung paano ma-eliminate ang bullying — may mga workshop then film kaya I allowed him na mag-shoot with my supervision,” he said.

“I am very much aware of na may batas na hindi puwedeng mag-benta [ng tickets] ang mga teachers kaya sabi ko bahala siya (director) on how to distribute. Wala kaming direct involvement sa pag-benta ng tickets. Wala ring share sa kita kasi sabi ko hands off na kami,” Santos added.

Santos added that any teacher who will be caught selling tickets will be subjected to disciplinary actions.

Tickets to the movie are sold P200 each with extra P100 if parents will tag along, he said.

“Ang mga parents plus P100. Iprenesent ko sa mga parents ‘yon, para ma-stop ang bullying sa PNS. Hindi po sapilitan ‘yon but I encouraged them na manood kasi maganda kapag napanood nila. Hindi rin totoo na walang grade ‘yong mga manood, voluntary po ‘yan. Ako po mismo ang magbibigay ng disciplinary action sa teachers na magi-impose ng ganyan,” he said.

Santos said students are not allowed to watch during school hours.

They can only watch the film if classes are over, he explained to the City Council.

Santos further said that if students are seen watching the film wearing their school uniforms, that is because they have no control over them not to attend classes. However, PNS teachers are aware that they can only watch if their classes are over.

“Kapag tapos na ang klase saka lang sila puwede manood. Kung may nakikita kayo na nasa mall na, [that is] because wala kaming control sa mga students. Pero alam ng mga teachers na after class pa dapat manoon hindi during class hours,” he said.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.