A FACULTY of Civil Law sophomore lost her cellphone to a man introduced by her professor as a former student and an employee of the Supreme Court last Jan. 12.

According to Melanie Gannaba, a sophomore law student, her Nokia 3650 was stolen by a certain Samuel Alvarez during her Transportation Law class with Atty. Albert Palacios.

Gannaba said Alvarez entered the class with Palacios. Alvarez, who wanted to sit-in for the duration of the class, sat beside Gannaba who was seated in front near the door of the Main Building’s room 127.

A few minutes after the class started, Alvarez borrowed Gannaba’s cellphone because his cellphone’s battery was running low and he needed to make a call. Gannaba lent her cellphone to Alvarez, who even used his SIM card to show his good faith.

Alvarez went out of the room but immediately returned, explaining to Gannaba that there was no signal and that he would try to make a call again after a few minutes, which he did. However, Alvarez did not return after he went out again.

“I thought he was just outside the room after class, but he was already gone,” Gannaba said.

Gannaba subsequently approached Palacios to verify Alvarez’s identity. Palacios, who has been teaching in the Faculty for more than 10 years, said he did not really know him.

“I admitted him to class because he claimed he was called by (Civil Law Dean Augusto Aligada, Jr.) to teach (in UST) and he wanted to observe classes because very soon he will also be teaching,” Palacios said. “He even introduced himself to me as a former student who placed 12th in the bar. With that, who would not admit him to class?”

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Gannaba immediately reported the incident to the Dean’s office, the guards on duty, and to the UST Security and Safety Services (SSS), but to no avail.

Based on the log-in record of the security guards at the entrance of the Civil Law lobby, Alvarez was supposed to have proceeded to the Registrar’s Office. But the guards could not recall Alvarez’ face

“I should have been more cautious and more discerning,” Gannaba said. “I regret that I did not listen to my intuition, I knew something was wrong.”

However, an incident with a similar modus operandi at the Ateneo de Manila University (Ateneo) in Quezon City revealed Alvarez’ true identity. A police report, after he was arrested for a cellphone theft at Ateneo, showed his real name to be Ariel Alvarez Baranda. Gannaba positively identified Baranda as the culprit, based on the photo attached with the report.

Aligada said although the Faculty has been strictly imposing security measures, the students should still be careful and be more discerning.

“I have instructed the guards not to allow anybody to enter the building without proper identification,” Aligada said. “I also instructed the teachers to be more careful and do not allow anybody to sit in.”

SSS assistant deputy commander Victorio Padoche said the students should be more cautious with their things, especially their cellphones.

“Anywhere in the country, cellphone theft is rampant,” Padoche said. “Although we are enforcing strict security, the students should remember that we cannot look after their belongings all the time.” April Dawn Jennifer C. Adriatico

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