LS, Sanggu to strengthen student safety measures

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THE LOYOLA Schools administration strengthened protocols regarding coordination with the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) following recent police encounters that sparked concern and distrust from students.

Together with the Sanggunian, the admin has also been taking steps towards further ensuring student safety.

The Campus Safety and Mobility Office (CSMO), Office for Student Services (OSS), and the Sanggunian worked towards maintaining close coordination and communication with Barangay Loyola Heights and QCPD, as well as raising student awareness regarding their rights.

Responses to recent incidents

Two policemen stepped out of an unlicensed black police cruiser at a rally against extra-judicial killings held at Gate 2.5 on August 24. The vehicle was identified with the ID “QCPD-237.” The policemen asked a female Ateneo staff member for the purpose of the demonstration and the names of the organizers. She did not give out any names, and the protesters dispersed.

Many students took to social media to express concerns for their safety.

English literature junior Jessica Gayo made a Twitter thread about the encounter, saying “Tonight, my faith in the [Philippine National Police] was completely shattered.”

Others expressed outrage that the police would resort to scare tactics, as well as negative opinions about the government. Celline Mercado (4 BFA ID/BFA AM) tweeted, “We've come to the point where we fear the police. There is no sense of safety anymore. The people sworn to protect us are the killers now.”

In a Twitter thread quoting The GUIDON’s live coverage of the incident, Serge Gabriel (BS PSY ‘13) expressed that he saw the incident as an effort to silence the dialogue surrounding the extrajudicial killings.

“If some members of the PNP and this [government] thinks [sic] that this is acceptable then there's [obviously] something wrong,” one of his tweets read.

According to CSMO Director Marcelino Mendoza, the office contacted the QCPD the day after the incident and requested an explanation regarding the incident.

In some statements given to the media, and in a dialogue with Mendoza, the QCPD explained that part of the standard operating procedure of the police is to submit a report containing information about any rally within their area of responsibility, and that their interaction with the rallyists was only for data-gathering.

QCPD Director Police Senior Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar apologized to Mendoza about the incident, and said that the policemen on the ground “should have known better.”

Mendoza stated that the visit only happened because the protest was independently organized, and was not coordinated with the CSMO nor with the police.

Mendoza reiterated to students that rallies should be coordinated with the CSMO, and that the QCPD should ask the CSMO, not the rallyists, if they need information about demonstrations. He added that if they needed to approach the rallyists, they should not have guns in possession.

Police also conducted bag inspections in Lan Kwai, Jeepney Bistro, and Tortuga as part of Oplan Bakal last September 13.

Oplan Bakal is a project of the Philippine National Police that involves inspections of bars and other establishments that serve alcoholic beverages in order to confiscate firearms and deadly weapons.

Ateneo Resident Students Association President Sydney Tan also discussed the online reactions to the bag raids. She said that this incident made students feel “violated” and that it “made the negative notion we have about the police” more apparent.

Some raised suspicions on the inspections’ timing, since they were conducted just a few hours after the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion’s halftime performance condemning the slashing of the Commission on Human Rights’ budget by the House of Representatives, as well as the rising spate of extrajudicial killings.

Preserving a sense of safety

In response to the recent police encounters, the Sanggunian will launch a campaign that will focus on making students aware of their rights. It is unnamed at the moment, and the Sanggunian aims to begin the campaign some time in October.

According to School of Social Sciences Representative Dasha Uy, the Sanggunian plans to disseminate bust cards with emergency numbers and hold workshops and forums on topics such as safety, knowing one’s rights, what to do in cases of emergency, and how to answer to police.

Sanggunian President Ia Marañon stated that the Sanggunian has been working with the student governments of Ateneo Senior High School, Miriam College, and the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

"We have plans to come together and do something about it because it’s a concern of all of our constituents," Marañon said. "We have a letter requesting our administrations to talk about [the events] and have some guidelines for safety as a product of the discussions."

As part of the Ateneo administration, Mendoza wants to maintain close coordination and open communication lines with the barangay and the police, and emphasized the importance of a cordial relationship between the police and the Ateneo community.

"The important thing is that there is mutual respect and understanding," Mallillin said.

Prudent mentality

According to Marañon, many students came forward to the Sanggunian asking for advice, following the close police encounters on August 24 and September 13. She discussed how the public perception of the police has “radically shifted to mistrust.”

"With all the killings going around, and with all the issues in the political sphere, you can't blame the students for thinking this way," Marañon said. "We'll always see the police as a unit that is closely linked to the actions of this administration."

According to Uy, this mistrust might have contributed to some believing the false rumours which circulated on social media about police presence inside the Ateneo campus on September 20.

She also assured that there is a “next to zero chance” of there being unauthorized police presence inside campus. "The police can’t enter campus without the express consent of the Ateneo administration.”

Uy also advised students to refrain from spreading unverified information. “We don’t want anything bad to happen because of panic. [The Sanggunian] wants to be able to control the situation,” she said.

Marañon hopes that the student body "did not get carried away by the paranoia and fear.”

“The response I want to get from students is not a blanket condemnation of the police, but more of a constant vigilance,” she said.

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