STATE OF UNEASE IN STATE U: Reviewing a year of violence in UP

By Andrea Yu

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Last year saw several headline-grabbing stories on student deaths and attacks within UP’s biggest campuses. Here’s a recap of what has been a violent 2012 for UP.

Nearly a year after the brutal robbery incident that left her with massive head injuries and needing a months-long hospitalization, Lordei Hina has yet to fully recover her speech and motor functions. Hina, then a fourth year BA Political Science student, was attacked by two would-be robbers who stabbed her with an ice pick and ran away with her and a companion’s laptops. One of the supects, Danmar Vicente, who was apprehended almost immediately after the robbery, has been able to post bail. His accomplice, Carlo Pecayo, has so far been able to evade arrest. The incident, as well as other instances of robbery within and near UP Diliman, has raised doubts on the adequacy of security in UP’s flagship campus.

Cases of robbery and rape leading to murder have occurred near UP Los Baños as well. Peter Cruz, a UP Open University student, was injured when he attempted and failed to take back his laptop from burglars who broke into his Los Banos apartment. Ray Bernard Peñaranda, an Agriculture major, was stabbed to death by robbers while biking just outside UPLB premises. Los Banos High School student Rochelle Geronda, 14, was brutally raped and killed in their house near the university, five months after UPLB junior Given Grace Cebanico met a similar fate within campus grounds in October 2011. It didn’t help that 2 more UPLB students died within university premises as the year drew to a close. Kevin Lagadon and Mark Lorenz Valdez slipped and drowned in a creek while hiking in the Makiling Forest Reserve.

Inter-fraternity violence has only served to heighten security concerns in UP. Opposing fraternities like Alpha Phi Beta (APB) and Alpha Sigma (Masig) have gone to extreme measures to defend their respective brotherhoods. A recent misunderstanding has caused both frats to start a chain of attacks upon each other—starting riots in school building lobbies, parking lots, comfort rooms, and even as far as their own homes. These fraternity wars leave the whole UP community on edge for the fear that they, too, may become victims of such acts of violence even though they are not directly involved in the argument.

Needless to say, cases like these are not isolated to UP. Most universities have their own share of violent occurrences. The bigger concern lies in examining what steps the UP administration must take in order to make the campus safer for its students.

There must be a stricter implementation for the checking of IDs before anyone is allowed to enter the school buildings. There should be no tolerance for any frat-related violence. The administration must work with student leaders for the prevention of such events and towards forging a sense of shared responsibility among the University’s fraternities, rather than result to merely punishing those at fault after something has already happened. In addition to these, there must be more security personnel round the clock to ensure that the students are properly watched over. In particular, the local police force of UP Diliman should be empowered to hire more personnel and relieve the dismal UPDP officer-to-student ratio of 1:1,000. Ultimately, efforts to make UP campuses safer will require the University to spend more – expenses that can only be shouldered sustainably via state funding. To make UP campuses safer, the government should be able to grant us a higher rate of subsidy so that the proposed security measures actually get implemented.

(photo credits: saberkite.com)

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