POOR police visibility and laws that lack teeth hamper the efforts to stamp out prostitution and casual sex encounters around UST. In some instances, the police deny the existence of prostitution and other ills.

Western Police District (WPD) Station 4 deputy commander for administration Major Danilo David denied the presence of prostitution in the University area.

“Kapag tinatanong kami ng mga magulang tungkol sa flesh trade sa UST, ang sinasabi namin, hindi iyan nag-e-exist,” he said.

When informed of the existence of casual sex encounters on UST area, David said the problem is difficult to address.

“Mas mahihirapan tayong hulihin sila in the act (ngayon) dahil ginagawa lang nilang meeting place iyon (A.H. Lacson St.) Lalo na libre. (Kaya) walang bayad, hindi talaga prostitution,” David said.

Lt. Arce Yam-oc of Police Community Precinct II (PCPII) on España St. said they handle a hundred cases of vagrancy daily but have not arrested any bystanders and loiterers on the main thoroughfares of University Belt Area (UBA) that included España, Dapitan, and A.H. Lacson Streets.

However, Yam-oc said they have spotted probable male prostitutes under the España overpass as early as 5 p.m.

“Marami diyan, mga suspicious-looking. Pero hindi naman natin puwedeng hulihin dahil walang ebidensiya,” added David.

Under the 1935 Anti-Vagrancy Law, a person who walks aimlessly on the streets without any visible means of livelihood will be detained from one to 15 days but vagrancy charges can be dismissed with a P200 bail, David said.

Human rights’ groups, however, stressed that the archaic law has been abused by some police in arresting individuals, particularly women on mere suspicion that they are prostitutes.

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Also, a person, may be accused of prostitution if caught in the act more than once. Otherwise, a person may only be charged with public scandal or indecency, and will be detained from 15 days to a month. Charges could be dismissed with a minimum bail of P200, depending on the gravity of offense, explained Sgt. Jessie Oliveros, of the WPD Station 4 Investigation Unit.

To address alleged prostitution and vagrancy in the city, roving patrols are dispatched every night and out of five Police Community Precincts (PCP), three are assigned to the University Belt Area (UBA) that included UST.

Also, last Nov.12, WPD Chief Superintendent Nicolas Pasinos re-launched its “Bike Patrol” that, officials said, would stem the rise of hold-ups and kidnappings in the city, particularly those occurring in broad daylight.

Despite these, the situation has not perceptibly improved as students complain about being held up and casual sex encounters and prostitution continue around Manila colleges and universities.

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