MANILA – Officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman have yet to take action on security concerns in the campus, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Prospero de Vera said.
“Wala (None). Burglaries in my house and my vehicles on the street…no report, no action,” he told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday evening when asked whether there was an update on his report from the previous year.
De Vera was referring to a Facebook post in December 2019 of an employee and a graduate student, Peps Dizon, who was attacked by a teenager and y four others.
In his post titled ‘We are Not Safe On This Campus’, Dizon said he was a victim of an attempted robbery but was able to repel the culprits by fighting back and screaming.
When de Vera shared the post in 2019, he said he had repeatedly raised this concern to the authorities in UP but was dismissed, as they said: “There is no security problem in UP Diliman”.
“Worse, they even assert I am making claims of security issues here,” he added.
De Vera said the last time they had a discussion on heeding concerns of the students, as well as the residents in UP campus, was in 2020.
“No. These are administrative matters under the jurisdiction of the UP Diliman Chancellor who was Michael Tan. I have discussed this in the UP Board of Regents, no clear resolution,” he said when asked what overruling powers the CHED has in safety concerns.
De Vera’s remarks came in the wake of the termination of the 1989 accord between the Department of National Defense (DND) and UP that bars police and military inside UP campuses without prior notice.
In a statement, de Vera said the DND-UP Accord is “rich in intention but short on details, and is therefore prone to differing interpretations.”
“Yet the stakes on the lives and the future of students and schools are high. The vitriol unleashed in social media does not benefit anyone except those with a political agenda,” the commission underscored in its statement.
De Vera also called on the DND, UP and all higher education institutions to exercise sobriety and to allow their office to call on everyone concerned to jointly discuss the issues, “especially when everyone has the same goals of student protection, academic freedom, and promotion of education – all embodied in no less than the Constitution itself.”
“In the next few days, I will be constituting a Panel of Education Experts to define the meaning of academic freedom and the role of security forces in the protection of academic freedom and the welfare of students. Courts have long drawn and placed judicial tests and standards to protect free speech and academic freedom, and we can be guided by them,” de Vera said.
After recovering from the injuries he sustained during the attack, Dizon shared a list of what he wishes the UP administration would consider in the same post.
Among these was the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras as he said there are none in the area.
“Standard operating procedure (SOP) of Security Personnel. I thank the 2 guards from Archaeo for their quick response when I shouted. But I felt that their SOP was lacking. None of them offered to assist me to visit the health service to check my condition as I was already bleeding a lot. I don’t know if I was the one who needed to request it first but I think it must be an SOP. The only request I asked was for them to drive me to my residence which one guard offered. Another thing, when they tried to catch the suspects they were on motorcycles. They might also have their guns with them. Suspects were just running. Other security guards are also stationed in Fine Arts, CMO, SPMO, etc. How come they were not able to enforce their power and coordination?” he added.
He also hopes that the university will improve their services “because they are procuring their services for millions”. (PNA)