An aerial view of the UST field during the Paskuhan Mass and Agape on Wednesday, Dec. 13. (Photo by Rainiel Angelyn B. Figueroa/ The Varsitarian)

TIGHTER security measures were implemented in the University for the Paskuhan festivities following the recent bombing during Mass at a Marawi university campus, a UST security official said. 

In an interview with the Varsitarian, Assoc. Prof. Juliano Parena Jr., the newly appointed UST Campus Safety and Security director, said “adjustments have already been made” after the bombing at the Mindanao State University (MSU) gymnasium in Marawi. 

“These measures are to be done daily and not just for the Paskuhan festivities to ensure the safety and security of all stakeholders,” he said.

At least four people were killed while 50 others were injured by the Dec. 3 bombing, which the terrorist group Islamic State claimed to have masterminded. 

The Philippine National Police placed Mindanao on full alert and Metro Manila on heightened alert following the incident in Marawi, the country’s Islamic capital. 

Some Thomasians have expressed concern over potential security threats during Paskuhan, like in a Reddit post on the popular Tomasino subreddit that has garnered 188 upvotes.

“I could not avoid thinking about Paskuhan since there are around 5,000 students gathering around the area and I don’t think we will be sure that all of those will be students, as seen last year [when] outsiders still manage[d] to sneak inside the event. How will our safety be ensured?” it read.

According to Parena, UST has coordinated with government agencies and barangay officials to ensure that security measures would be in place during Paskuhan events.

The University decided to make most Paskuhan festivities exclusive to Thomasians and alumni again because of health and safety reasons, he said. 

“We must ensure that the participants enjoy the company of their friends [and] are still safe during the event and that they [can] go home safely to their families, too,” Parena said.

“We believe that limiting it exclusively [to] Thomasians is necessary to ensure all stakeholders’ safety and security,” he added.

About 30,000 to 40,000 attendees are expected to flock to the campus during the Paskuhan concert on Dec. 21. 

Paskuhan security protocol

To ensure that only Thomasians and alumni will enter the campus during Paskuhan, Parena said only those who have valid UST and alumni IDs would be permitted entry. 

Alumni also need to present their unique QR code pass at their designated gate (Gate 11 in Dapitan Street) upon entering the campus. 

QR code passes will only be used for security and crowd management purposes, according to the UST Office of Alumni Relations.

Meanwhile, Gate 7 near the Padre Noval court will have separate barricaded entry and exit points for non-Thomasians who will visit the UST Santisimo Rosario Parish Church.

Gate 14 at Lacson Avenue will remain open for those going to the UST Hospital.

Paskuhan attendees who will enter through the Lacson gate will have to go through the screening process at the area in front of the UST carpark, near the ATMs. 

UST will observe a carless day during the grand Paskuhan concert on Dec. 21. 

Parena urged Thomasians to be honest and report any security breach during Christmas festivities at the University. 

“We would also appreciate [it] if Thomasians apply the ‘If you see something, say something’ rule in safety and security matters. With such a University-wide event, we appreciate receiving any information that would help us ensure that proper safety and security protocols are implemented,” he said.


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