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Friday, October 07, 2005

Reasons that Reason Does Not Know

Valentines is in the air and if there is one Supreme Court decision that would be a perfect representation of the Valentines spirit, it would be none other than a case that involves a teacher and a student of Tay Tung High School in Bacolod City, Philippines.  This is the case of Evelyn Chua-Qua vs. Pres. Exec. Asst. Clave and Tay Tung High School, Inc., G.R. No. 49549, August 30, 1990.

This case was actually an illegal dismissal case but a unique one because it involves the dismissal of a classroom teacher on the ground of alleged unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher by reason of petitioner’s marriage to her student who was fourteen years younger than her.  Her continued employment was considered by the school as inimical to its best interests and would downgrade its high moral values.

When the dispute arose, Evelyn, the petitioner, was the class adviser in the sixth grade where one Bobby was enrolled.  Since it was the policy of the school to extend remedial instructions to its students, Bobby was imparted such instructions in school by Evelyn.  In the course thereof, the couple fell in love and in December 1975, they got married in a civil ceremony which was later ratified with the rites of their religion in a church wedding a month later.  Evelyn was then thirty years old while Bobby was only sixteen.

Tay Tung High School subsequently applied for a clearance to terminate Evelyn arguing that her actuations as a teacher constitute serious misconduct, if not an immoral act, a breach of trust and confidence reposed upon her and, thus, a valid and just ground to terminate her services.  It further charged Evelyn with having allegedly violated the Code of Ethics for teachers the pertinent provision of which states that a "school official or teacher should never take advantage of his/her position to court a pupil or student.”

Evelyn, on the other hand, maintains that there was no ground to terminate her services as there is nothing wrong with a teacher falling in love with her pupil and, subsequently, contracting a lawful marriage with him.

While no direct evidence of immoral acts had been presented, the Labor Arbiter granted a clearance for Evelyn’s dismissal from employment.  The Labor Arbiter, although conceding that there was no direct evidence to show that immoral acts were committed, he nonetheless indulge himself in speculating that "it is enough for a sane and credible mind to imagine and conclude what transpired during those times."

The Supreme Court, however, did not agree with the conclusions of the Labor Arbiter.  The supposed basis of the conclusion of the Labor Arbiter was the allegation in the affidavits presented by Tay Tung High School that Evelyn “stayed alone with Bobby in the classroom after school hours when everybody had gone home, with one door allegedly locked and the other slightly open.”  But surely, no logical inference of any immorality may be deduced thereon, especially considering that a door was open.

As such, the Supreme Court held that: “With the finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, it follows that the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers would have no basis. Tay Tung High School utterly failed to show that Evelyn took advantage of her position to court her student. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.”


  • At 7:16 PM, Blogger ramil c. lucero said…

    That means only one thing: those who holds the same moral code understands one another- age disparity notwithstanding. That moral code is amoral,i.e., it offers no answer to the question whether this thing is good or bad-it simply means either I can or I can not do the thing!

  • At 6:45 AM, Blogger About Andrew Sheldon said…

    I am not sure I understand your argument. The woman has breached her contractual obligations, so she should have been sacked. It is a common law breach to my mind. The contract is between the school and the teacher. The child is a minor, so is really under the protection of the parent. Of course there is statutes governing these things, which I have little confidence in, however the reality is, common law is quite adequate. There is no evidence of coercion (i.e. criminality).
    I agree with Ramil, the moral code is inadequate.


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