Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bloody bank heist at the University of the Philippines

Yesterday the Philippine Veterans Bank branch at the Bahay ng Alumni (Alumni House) of the University of the Philippines in Diliman was robbed. Two security guards were killed and also the roving bank teller as the armoured van transferring cash was riddled with automatic fire. The criminals' getaway van was left abandoned 400 meters away near the Department of Military Science and Tactics.

The mayor of Quezon City lbemoanded the policy that unless with authorization from the Chancellor, the Philippine National Police can't enter the campus. By previous agreement, the UP Diliman Police handles all investigation and police work in campus.

Sounds good in theory but the campus community especially the students think the campus police is inutile to deal with crime, petty or otherwise. One professor whose faculty office was ransacked during a busy lunch break complained that it took more than one month for the campus police to produce the needed police investigation report.

The UP Diliman administration should wake up and smell the blood. The Diliman campus isn't safe and students have been mugged, raped and murdered. But still there hasn't been much change in policy except the campus has "security service brigades" or SSB and closure of points of ingress in the campus (I will deal with this later). While these provide some degree of security presence, it remains to be seen how these are effective in deterring crime.

During the term of Dr Jose Abueva as president 20 years ago, the UP consulted security experts and they recommended ASAP the erection of high fences along campus perimeters. This should deter criminals and informal settlers from entering the campus. But as one security expert told me,the petrified ideologues in UP considered it "anti-democratic"! WTF! Nonetheless since then huge tracts of the campus has been invaded by squatters, not a few students have been knifed, raped and mugged. One prominent leftist was assassinated on the other side of the Alumni hall.

The security situation in campus has become bad that even the local Catholic parish church had to put gates contrary to its architectural concept of being open. UP has made things worse by a security budget cut.

I hope the Chancellor begins to look seriously at the security situation.


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