THE UST SECURITY Office suggested for the closure of the campus to the public as an anti-criminal measure. The suggestion was made in the aftermath of two killings that followed one after the other on the same week last July: the bodies of the victims were found on Lacson and P. Florentino Sreets. To be sure, the call has been made informally: it hasn’t been formally submitted to the UST administration. We urge caution, however. And prudence.

To be sure, we don’t know how killings in the periphery of UST could be solved or checked by closing the campus. The killings, mind you, happened outside the campus: does the Security Office fear the killings may happen next on campus? If so, then what we’re having is a worsening crime situation of which UST and the Thomasian community are the victims, not the victimizers. But as always with police and security, once there’s a spike in crimes, it’s the public that gets penalized, not the local government, whose incompetence, mismanagement and corruption abetted the rise in crimes in the first place.

Ditto with UST hosting the bar exams. Why should UST call it a school holiday and prohibit members of the Thomasian community, especially enrollees who paid for tuition and UST services, from entering the campus just because aspiring lawyers are taking the bar exams and seek to add to the overpopulation of lawyers in the Philippines?

Part of the reason why public safety and order has worsened is because of unsolved crimes and unchecked criminal activities. In the case of the bar exams, they were moved to UST because of the bombing incident that happened outside of the previous venue, De la Salle University on Taft Ave. As far as we know, DLSU had never barred its students from its premises just to host the bar exams and indeed, the explosion happened outside, not on campus. But several years after that incident, the police and government have not pinned down those responsible, much less brought them to the bar of justice. Meanwhile, it is UST students who have been penalized by being barred from campus whenever the campus hosts the bar exams. Meanwhile, criminal activities go unabated.

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What is happening in UST is a microcosm of what’s happening in the nation. One of the biggest industries in the country today is security. The Philippines is the only country in the world where shoppers get frisked by security guards before they can enter shopping malls: Not even Indonesia does that. But Filipinos have become so at home with their insecurity that they have made the blue guard as their security blanket. And who own the security agencies? Well, former or retired police or military officers who made a mess of the country’s security in the first place: the communist insurgency and the Muslim rebellion are already two generations old and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is nowhere near finishing them off. Drug, car theft and other criminal syndicates continue to make hay while they may because of the incompetence and corruption of the Philippine National Police, the inheritor of the slapstick, slapdash legacy of the Keystone Cops.

In 2011, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared the campus as national historical landmark. Earlier, four structures in the University — the Main Building, Central Seminary, Arch of the Centuries and Grandstand and Open Spaces—had been named national cultural treasures by the National Museum. How can the public appreciate UST as a historical landmark and a cultural treasure if they cannot even enter its campus?

This is not to downplay campus security. According to internal rules, outsiders are allowed to pass only through the gates on P. Noval and Lacson Streets, granting access to the parish, the hospital and carpark.

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Campus security has evidently been fortified. As for outside the campus, the local government and police should be held accountable; they must be made to deliver. The Thomasian community should not be penalized for the stupidity and corruption of civil and local defense. Government should be made to do its job.

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