Safety has certainly been a concern at the University Belt as of late.
Late last year, two students of the Far Eastern University (FEU) were shot by unidentified men near the campus.
Earlier than that, a University of Santo Tomas (UST) student was stabbed inside the FEU campus, with police suspecting it was caused by sorority wars.
It’s enough to make any parent pause, and the universities that comprise the University Belt certainly feel the same. The University Belt Consortium, an association of Manila’s higher education institutions (HEI), recently inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the City of Manila and the Philippine National Police-National Capitol Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) to further ensure peace, safety, and security within the area.
Dr. Michael Alba, president of FEU, says the numerous violent incidents that happened in the FEU campus spurred the university to call on the University Belt Consortium to approve this MOA.
“Nagsimula with the events here talaga. It was probably the one single event that crystallized our resolve. If it did not happen, we would not have had an inkling about the harm that it does to our students,” he says. “We’d like to do everything to minimize the possibility of recurrence of those types of events. We want to come together and recognize the problem that is commonly shared by everyone, and that all of us have to work together to prevent it from happening again.”
Signatories of the MOA were the presidents of the educational institutions forming the University Belt Consortium, namely Rev. Fr. Gregorio L. Banaga, C.M. of Adamson University; Dr. Francisco P.V. Cayco of Arellano University; Dr. Ma. Cristina D. Padolina of Centro Escolar University; Dr. Michael M. Alba of Far Eastern University; Dr. Adolfo Jesus R. Gopez of FEATI University; Atty. Roberto P. Laurel of Lyceum of the Philippines University; Atty. Eduardo D. de los Angeles of Manuel L. Quezon University; Dr.Reynaldo Vea of Mapua Institute of Technology; Mr. Teodoro Ocampo of National University; Dr. Ester A. Garcia of University of the East; Atty. Ernesto de los Santos of University of Manila; and Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. of University of Santo Tomas. Mayor Alfredo Lim and director Leonardo A. Espina represented the city government of Manila and the PNP-NCRPO, respectively.
COMMITMENT TO SECURITY
Under the agreement, the consortium will work with the city government and the police to develop and implement policies geared to upholding the safety of university belt students.
Among the provisions outlined in the MOA are the increased visibility of local police and barangay officials in the U-Belt area; provision and maintenance of street lights and encouraging business establishments to install CCTV cameras in and around their premises; creation of a system in collecting, recording, reporting, and summarizing offenses and related incidents committed against students within the university belt; and the formation of a crime prevention committee to prepare and oversee the execution of a comprehensive security plan for each university.
Espina says that all of these provisions will make it easier for the PNP to conduct investigations and respond to crimes that happen within campuses and the schools within the University Belt.
“Mawawala na ‘yung delay. Kasi noon, it would take days before we would be given access to the who, why, when, where, and how. Time is of the essence when it comes to information. You have to immediately go there and be given access so we can run after the perpetrator. We only have 36 hours,” he explains.
Espina also assures that the MOA will not be used as a way for the PNP to interfere with the freedom of the universities that comprise the University Belt.
“Hindi kami basta-basta papasok sa mga school. If a crime happens, we only have 36 hours to solve that crime. We only have 36 hours to legally arrest without warrant a perpetrator. After that, you file the case for preliminary investigation by the prosecutor.Hindi puwedeng basta-basta,” he explains. “Eh kung patayan ito? We have to run immediately and arrest the perpetrator. Otherwise you lose the opportunity. If that opportunity is not given to us, then that’s it, makakawala kung sino ‘yung pumatay.”
Alba believes that with the MOA, students studying within the University Belt will be able to focus on their studies and not have to worry about their safety and security.
“The MOA for peace, safety, and security underscores the commitment of the University Belt Consortium to provide our students with a safe learning environment,” he says. “We look forward to working with the city of Manila and the PNP-NCRPO to further promote and uphold public order in the university belt area.”