EXACTLY a week after the infamous terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon in the United States, the Philippine National Police uncovered a threat to bomb UST.

University officials suspended elementary and high school classes last Sept. 18, after the PNP notified them of a plan by suspected terrorists to bomb the University, particularly the UST Pay High School Bldg.

The plan was reportedly discovered when a taxi driver overheard his passengers speaking in Arabic and talking about bombing UST. Unknown to the foreigners, the driver had worked in Saudi Arabia and understood their conversation.

Camp Crame told the Varsitarian that the suspects were also plotting to bomb the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard.

UST received two other bomb threats last Sept. 20, prompting officials to closely coordinate with the University Belt Area Police.

The incidents moved University officials to implement stricter security measures, Office for Security Affairs (OSA) Detachment Commander Norberto Brosas said.

According to Brosas, intelligence officials suspect that UST may have captured the interest of terrorists because of its large population, its strategic location —it is at the heart of Manila — and its reputation as a seat of Catholic education in Asia.

UST has some 40,000 students and employees. It also hosts the UST Hospital and the Santissimo Rosario Parish, which has tens of thousands of parishioners.

To boost campus security, UST Vice-Rector for Finance Fr. Roberto Pinto, O.P. said he has ordered the hiring of more security guards.

The OSA also closed some gates to better monitor people and vehicles entering the University. Inspections were further tightened in all of UST’s main gates and buildings.

Waking up from 'junk sleep'

Meanwhile, security officials requested for the installation of caller ID devices to track down the source of the threats.

Brosas also proposed to the UST administration some contingency measures in case a bomb explosion takes place.

For added security measure, UST Secretary-General Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P. issued a memorandum ordering a 9:30 p.m. University-wide curfew starting Sept. 21.

Bomb threats are not new to UST.

In August 1996, the University got three threats to bomb the UST Main building and the St. Raymund’s building. But the threats were apparently done only to postpone the then preliminary examinations.

At the height of the impeachment trial against deposed President Joseph Estrada, UST also received bomb threats from prank callers. Tension built up even more when still unknown men simultaneously bombed five places in Metro Manila in December 2000.

During the rallies at Edsa last January, UST received a bomb threat. Thomasians attending a Mass for the Edsa participants at the UST Engineering Complex were advised to move out of the place because of the threat.

Curiously, the threat was received hours after UST Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. officially announced the recall of the University’s contract with the Fortun, Narvasa and Salazar Law Firm, Estrada’s legal team in the impeachment proceedings.

Weeks after the peaceful revolution, the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery received another bomb threat from an unknown caller. Jayme Emerald C. Brucal, Karen M. Peña and Louie Jon A. Sanchez


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