THE RECENT brutal deaths of two Thomasians in the hands of street criminals have increased public awareness of the precarious public safety around the University and have made Thomasians think twice before walking alone the streets surrounding the campus.

As UST enters another school year, the killings of Nursing sophomore Jef Marty Longyapon last Oct. 14 on A.H. Lacson Ave., and more recently, College of Rehabilitation Sciences (CRS) sophomore Randall Von Antolin on P. Noval Street, have yet to be resolved.

According to UST Security Force Detachment commander Clemente Dingayan, barely a month after Longyapon’s murder, the Manila Police District arrested three male suspects belonging to a gang known as the “Blondie Group”. The suspects were identified as Eduard Samontina, Raymund Lee and Alfie Connosido.

Samontina, the leader, posted bail afterwards but was again caught by the police holding up another victim on Blumentrit Street last Nov. 1. The victim had been able to scream for help, alerting bystanders, who pounced on Samontina and beat him up. Policemen then brought Samontina, who suffered multiple injuries and lost a great amount of blood, back to the precinct. There, Longyapon’s girlfriend, Hervika Pestaño, a Nursing alumna who was with him during the murder, identified him as the gunman. Samontina died of his injuries hours later.

Dingayan said Longyapon’s family has not filed any case against the suspects. However, four other victims have filed against them four other charges of robbery and robbery with homicide.

Meanwhile, there are no new leads on Antolin’s case, as suspects of his murder remain at large. Authorities are still looking for two College of Fine Arts students who reportedly witnessed the murder.

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The two incidents sparked a major overhaul in the security both inside and outside the University. As for the first time, the UST Security Force has deployed two security guards everyday since November 7, to patrol the streets of Lacson, España, Dapitan, and P. Noval from 5.30 am to 9.30 pm.

Also, due to the two robbery-slay incidents, the city government has repaired and installed flood lights and lamp posts on all fours streets surrounding UST.

Broken Potentials

Antolin was a Sports Science student. He had two siblings—his twin sister, Sidney, an incoming Journalism junior at the Faculty of Arts and Letters and a Salinggawi Dance Troupe member. And a younger brother Kyle who is studying at Saint Mary’s College.

Despite his brother’s murder, Sidney told the Varsitarian that she has no intention of transferring to another school.

“I remain hopeful that justice will be given to my brother,” Sidney said. “In fact his death has motivated me to be more vigilant.”

According to Professor Joy De Los Reyes, chairman of the Sports Science department, Antolin was a very quiet student.

His mother Rose, a restaurant manager, and his father Reden, an engineer, said they could not ask for a better child than Randall, as he was very thoughtful and very obedient.

“He does not answer back when we scold him unlike other kids today,” his father said.

Antolin wanted to become a doctor someday, his family said.

Sidney said his twin brother once told her he would not likea sudden death. “He wanted to become sick before he dies so his family can be with him in his last moments,” she said.

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According to Michael Andrew Gabriel, Antolin’s classmate and the last person who was with him before he was killed, Antolin was a person who knew how to balance his time in school and social life.

“I really regret leaving him that night. I wish I could’ve been with him,” Gabriel said.

On the other hand, Longyapon was a Nursing judo team member and was popular in among the girls his college, his friends say. He won first runner-up in the 2004 Mr. Nursing personality.

According to his best friend, Michael Magpantay, Longyapon’s parents separated when the latter was four years old. He was left at the care of a certain Yaya Pane, who raised him like a son. His mother left for the US and his father left for Davao. Although his parents left him at a very young age, they still supported his education and his daily needs. They, however, could not be reached for comment

According to his friends, despite his immense popularity he remained humble.

“That’s what most people like about him. Despite the fact that he is well-known in our college, he never lets it get into his head,” Mary Ann Robles, Longyapon’s classmate. She added that Longyapon loves to sing to his friends.

Eye Opener

After the two murders, CRS Regent Rev. Fr. Fausto Gomez, O.P. was among the first to vocally express his concern over the apparent incapability of the authorities to maintain a secure environment around one Asia’s oldest institutions of higher learning.

“We should not wait for another student to die for us to see the reality that is happening,” Gomez said.

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He said that aside from the security personnel, student leaders should also take the initiative and devise ways to prevent another violent incident like this to happen.

In response, the Central Student Council has proposed the creation of the Students Rights and Welfare Committee. The proposed committee has no defined goals and terms yet as it is still under study and may take time before it can be implemented.

Antolin’s parents said there should be more warning signs or audio visual devices that would caution students when walking along the streets surrounding UST.

“Students walking along the streets are usually relaxed and focused on other things, so they would not expect anything like a hold-up to happen,” Antolin’s father said.

Antolin’s parents also appealed to the reported witnesses of their son’s murder to contact them or coordinate with the press to at least give a cartographic sketch of the suspects.

Gomez, meanwhile, also called on the Thomasians to pray for the souls of Antolin and Longyapon.

The two murders, one way or another, have made the whole Thomasian community more vigilant and united. But while new measures to beef up security have already been implemented, their over-all changes remain to be seen. Jordan Mari S. De Leon

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