WITH personal safety at risk, the University’s security guards often find themselves caught between implementing policies and dealing with hard-headed violators. For their troubles, they get P280 per day and a daily dose of disrespect from students and outsiders alike.

While inside the campus, the guards deal with stubborn people who dare go against school policies. In one incident, a guard who tried to implement the “Engine off for parked car” policy to lessen pollution on campus was threatened with a Caliber .45 by a driver of a Bulacan government official.

Besides securing the University, they also have to look after themselves, as some of the perpetrators they have apprehended later get back at them. There are some who take apprehensions personally. “Pag nakita ‘yung guardya sa labas, babalikan s’ya. May mga instances na rin kaming ganoon,” said Clemente Dingayan, UST Security Force (SF) Detachment Commander.

Unlike members of the Armed Forces, security guards do not get extra pay for the risks that their job entails. The UST guards receive only the usual employees’ thirteenth month pay, overtime, and night-time increments. What they get most of the time, however, is criticism. “Siguro hindi nila (people) naiintindihan ang task na nakaumang sa balilkat ng isang guard.” Dingayan said.

Marites Mendoza, who has been a guard in the University for almost seven years, said even students do not spare them. “’Yung mga estudyante, kung minsan walang galang at maliit ang tingin sa mga security guards,” she said.

Contrary to the student’s notion that guards do nothing but stand at entrances and exits, Dingayan pointed out that their mere presence is already an act of security for the students.

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“Preventive ‘yun.” he said. “Someone who is planning to do any crime or scandal would think twice if that person sees a guard in uniform.”

The UST-SF men also undergo seminars to improve their discipline implementation and to familiarize themselves with procedures during emergency cases such as bomb threats. Dingayan himself attends monthly seminars given by the Philippine Association of School Security Officers, then relays to the UST-SF whatever is discussed in the seminars.

This, Dingayan said, is for the betterment of the Force’s service to the University.

Not their fault

Despite accusations of relaxing their grip, the security guards do their best to collar the robbers and thieves who prey on the Thomasians.

On Oct. 31, a thief pocketed a mobile phone and a wallet from an Arts and Letters student’s bag while the latter showered at the Grandstand shower room. On Nov. 17, a man took away two bags belonging to students playing in the Engineering Complex. The security guards, however, managed to seize the perpetrators in both incidents and turned them over to the University Belt Area Police Department.

The presence of thieves inside the campus is undeniable, but so is the fact that within the University are establishments which are open to the public, such as the bank, post office, hospital, and chapel.

According to last year’s Security statistics for cellular phone thefts, 30 per cent of the thieves were outsiders. But security guards are unable to limit the number of civilians entering the campus.

“Kahit anong pag-iistrikto ang gawin natin, hindi effective ‘yung proseso natin dahil marami silang gagamiting dahilan.” said Dingayan.

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All the helpless guards can do is to let these persons in and have them monitored.

Still, with a limited number of men and a large area to cover, the outnumbered Force is having difficulties inspecting everyone who enters the campus. “Napakadami ng areas na kino-control ng security.” Dingayan said.

Unlike in some schools, where entrances and exits are limited and therefore well monitored, the University has 13 accessible gates, for both vehicles and pedestrians, excluding the Hospital’s three.

With only 106 men, 80 per cent of whom work in the daytime, the security office finds it difficult to monitor all these posts and scrutinize everyone who enters the campus.

When factors such as the campus being too accessible, and the small number of security personnel, are not considered, the UST Security Force becomes most susceptible to criticism. Some will point their fingers at the guards and blame them for the presence of bad elements inside the campus. People will even look down on them. But for performing their tasks to the point of even putting their safety at risk, the guards would wish for something to make up for their measly pay: that at least, they be given the respect they deserve. Jose Teodoro B. Mendoza

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