STUDENTS’ safety inside the campus is the primary concern of the University of Santo Tomas’ security personnel. Aside from keeping Thomasians out of danger, the security force should be courteous in dealing with members of the University. Thomasians should be respectful in return.

University Security Office consultant Norberto Brosas said UST guards undergo seminars on bomb threats, fire drills, discipline, and evacuation, including courtesy. However, incidents of misunderstanding between guards and students persist.

Last January, the Varsitarian published an article on campus security. Some students were interviewed on first-hand accounts of campus petty crimes while the University’s Security Office was asked to cite its problems in providing the best security measures for students. A photograph of a guard who appeared to be sleeping was also published.

Consequently, a guard at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex approached a group of Varsitarian staffers and told them to be more cautious in taking pictures of guards on duty. The guard strictly asserted that their permission should be sought first before they would be photographed to prevent being reprimanded by the detachment commander.

In a related incident, Fr. Roberto Pinto, O.P., Vice-Rector for Finance, reproved a number of guards who blew his whistle at students to order them to leave the school premises after the Thomasian Street Party on Feb. 5. Some students heard Fr. Pinto say that it was not good for guards to whistle on students and treat them like criminals on the loose.

Meanwhile, a University security guard locked up a group of Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) students inside the Engineering Complex last Feb.10.

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Arniel Ombing, the guard assigned at the España gate entrance to the Roque Ruaño building did not open the Engineering Complex gate until 6:00 p.m. to let out a group of AB Behavioral Science and Journalism students after they overshot their allowed playing time inside the complex. The group, composed of basketball and volleyball players, was rehearsing for the AB Week’s sports festival.

The basketball players were supposed to meet at the complex to practice outside the University. Instead, the group asked the guard to allow them to practice at Court 1 when some of the players did not show up on time.

The volleyball players had already reserved Court 2 for their practice but failed to present the permission to Ombing that caused the delay of the group’s practice.

“Mga 2 p.m., gusto nilang (mga estudyante) pumasok sa complex, pero hiningi ko ‘yung permit. Mga 2:45 p.m. (pa) dumating ‘yung permit na mula 2 p.m. (hanggang) 5 p.m. Tapos noon, nakapasok na sila,” Ombing said.

According to Journalism senior and basketball player Angelo de Alban, they later transferred to the vacant covered court.

“Noong bandang hapon, mga 2 p.m., lumipat kami sa covered court kasi wala namang naglalaro, nakiusap kami sa guard, pumayag naman,” De Alban said.

At about 5 p.m., Ombing approached the group and asked them to leave. But the group requested the guard to allow them to finish the game since they started to practice late.

“Hindi ko muna sila pinalabas kasi nakiusap silang mag-extend. Mga 5:20 p.m., pumasok ako ulit pero nakiusap sila ulit, sabi ko sige 15 minutes (pa),” Ombing said.

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Ombing returned at 5:35 p.m. but the students, particularly those playing basketball, still refused to leave and asked for another extension.

At about 5:50 p.m., Ombing locked the gate and went to the comfort room inside Roque Ruaño building. During this time, the players were done practicing and were getting ready to go home and one of the students climbed the gate to talk to Ombing.

At 6 p.m., Ombing unlocked the gate. Some of the students complained he tarried in opening the gate to spite them. But Ombing denied this. The source even went back because he left his bag inside the complex. He said, by this time, Ombing was a bit apprehensive.

“Kasi para hindi sila maistorbo noong mga walang permit, saka baka may pumasok na outsider (kaya ko ini-lock ang gate),” Ombing said.

When students violate the school regulations, some guards tend to be rude and force them to comply. Students, on the other hand, assert themselves.

However, when guards go overboard, it is always wise for the students to let the authorities know about it.

Also, the security personnel obviously lack “customer service.” While it is true that guards are tasked to maintain a crime-free UST, they are also responsible for treating their Thomasian “customers” politely. An added dose of patience in dealing with students is also a necessity.

In addition, guards seem to be less trained in handling a triple zone campus like UST. Aside from the University, the security force is also assigned to protect the Santissimo Rosario Parish Church and the UST Hospital, which altogether is a formidable task.

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UST guards should also be trained in safeguarding even the immediate community outside the University.

Certainly, when students and guards cooperate with and respect each other, a sound campus security would be more attainable. Students are required to follow school rules and regulations. Guards, likewise, are tasked to implement them accordingly. Bernardette S. Sto. Domingo

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