MORE COPS, more protection.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has agreed to deploy more personnel around the campus to catch pickpockets and other criminals.

This was reached following a dialogue between University officials and police officers last Aug. 22.

The discussion focused on the improvement of security measures through police visibility, especially during the night and early morning.

To address the limited number of policemen in the University Belt Area (UBA) station, Police Senior Inspector Rolando Lorenzo Jr. said police assistance centers were put up on the corners of España Boulevard and Padre Noval Street, and Lacson Avenue and Dapitan Street.

“Students are becoming more vulnerable to culprits by exposing their valuables outside the campus,” he said. ”But they may report to these posts so that we can immediately respond.”

Lorenzo said there were instances when the police were able to arrest the culprits, but students didn’t want to press charges.

“We cannot detain the suspects [if there is no complaint, so] we have nothing to do but to free them,” he said.

PNP officials also said they are conducting regular meetings with the 56 barangay chairmen in the UBA to discuss strategies in intensifying security.

Osmundo Perez, Brgy. 471 Zone 46 chairman who oversees the streets of Antonio, Asturias, Rosarito, Navarra, Juaning, Santander, and Andalucia, said he has ordered watchmen to roam around the campus regularly at night.

Security Office chief Joseph Badinas said students should immediately report crimes to the nearest security guard as well as “suspicious actions.”

Students should cooperate by wearing their identification cards at all times and swiping them on locators upon entering each building, he added.

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The number of reported campus crimes involving students has declined for the past two years, records from the security office showed.

Last school year, only 40 cases were reported, lower than the 74 and 70 in school years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, respectively.

Badinas said most of the cases were theft, which commonly occur in the open field while students are having their physical education classes.

“Sometimes [students] just leave their bags anywhere without someone to look after them,” Badinas said.

Freshmen students are the frequent victims because “they are not yet aware of their surroundings” and are not careful, he said.

Badinas added that the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on campus grounds and rehabilitation of street lights on España Boulevard helped minimize crimes.

Sidewalk clogging

The mushrooming of illegal vendors near the campus, which causes congestion on the sidewalks, was another issue raised in the Aug. 22 meeting.

“We almost have regular clearing operations every morning wherein we confiscate the merchandise of whoever we get caught, and put them under custody here in our precinct,” said Lorenzo, adding that the operations were in accordance with a memorandum issued last July 7 by the Manila Police District Operations and Plans Division, as instructed by Mayor Alfredo Lim.

But illegal vendors leave their posts only when there are policemen and would simply return afterward, he admitted.

Perez claimed barangay officials have asked illegal vendors to leave. But they did not pursue the matter out of “humanitarian consideration.”

Central Student Council President Lorraine Taguiam said she will write a letter to the mayor to raise security issues within the campus perimeter.

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A follow-up meeting will also be held before the first semester ends, where barangay chairmen and owners of stores around UST will be invited. Rafael L. Antonio

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