THE SECURITY Office has imposed stricter security measures by deploying more guards and setting up checkpoints at every entrance of the campus, following a bomb threat last Feb. 25.

Tightened security was ordered by the Crisis Management Office as a “general prevention” measure against crime, said Security Chief Joseph Badinas.

“Masyado na tayong naging maluwag. Tama lang ‘yung performance na ‘to para ma-prevent ‘yung mga pumapasok na wala namang official business,” Badinas told the Varsitarian in an interview.

Aside from checkpoints at the gates of the campus on España Boulevard as well as Lacson, Dapitan, and P. Noval streets, all buildings were required to put up baggage inspection points, and strictly implement the “no ID, no entry” policy.

First bomb threat since 2009

Badinas said it was his first time to encounter a bomb threat in the University since he assumed the post of security chief five years ago.

The threat came from a text message around 10:30 a.m. and then circulated in social networking sites, particularly Twitter.

A report by Arnold Santos, chief police inspector of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) section of the Manila Police District (MPD), cited a tweet about the bomb threat from an industrial engineering student named Kristel Saqueton.

“UST bomb scare. Let’s all pray! Di ko alam kung trip ba to or what pero di kasi magandang joke to.”

The tweet included a screen shot of a message supposedly received by Saqueton from an unidentified person. It had 168 retweets as of presstime. The screen shot of the text message said: “A bomb will go off @ each of d ff bldgs. Bet 3 and 6pm 2day: albertus magnus, st raymund, roque ruano and 1 other bldg. 2 believe or not is ur choice. Play wid d peoples lives (sic).”

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The text message also included the number of the alleged source of the bomb threat. The Varsitarian tried to contact the number but there was no answer.

According to Santos, the EOD section and the UST Security Office conducted a bomb search of the entire campus. After the probe at Albertus Magnus, Roque Ruaño, San Martin de Porres, Thomasian Alumni Research Center, and Benavides buildings, and surrounding areas including comfort rooms, classrooms, hallways, stairways, common areas, and parking lots, the search turned out to be “negative for any hazardous and/or explosive device.”

At 3:30 p.m., “no untoward incident happened and the classes are still in normal situation.” Manila police stayed in the University until 6.p.m. but the threat did not materialize.

Carry over

Although heightened security was implemented after the bomb threat, Badinas said the Security Office would like it to become standard operating procedure until the next academic year.

“Mas mabuting ipagpapatuloy ‘to. Siguro talagang napapanahon na. ‘Yung safety pa rin ng mga Thomasians ang dapat gawin,” Badinas said.

UST was the second university to receive a bomb threat in February after Ateneo de Manila last Feb. 12. A day after the incident in UST, a bomb threat forced St. Paul College in Pasig to suspend classes.

According to the standard operating procedures of the Philippine National Police, bomb threats must be taken seriously. Authorities can order occupants of a building to evacuate and conduct a search.

The incident is still under investigation by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame. John Joseph G. Basijan and Jon Christoffer R. Obice

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