Last March 28, 2017, the De La Salle University – Parents of University Students Organization (DLSU-PUSO) held the first meeting of the Happy Thursday Regulatory Board, which aims to solve incidents of alleged selling of intoxicating drinks by establishments within the area, fights, rumbles, drugs, and prostitution, among others.
In a letter of invitation to the meeting from DLSU-PUSO, it states that the weekly tradition of Happy Thursday among students “is good”, and that “rest and recreation is always healthy insofar as relaxing the mind.”
However, in light of the incidents, the meeting sought to discuss possible solutions in order to “maintain law and order during Happy Thursday.” The letter further states, “It would be to the great benefit and advantage of all of us, and for the common good, that we immediately and effectively get organized, in order to be able to regulate and police ourselves as one responsible body, and thereby instill order and safety for the betterment of all the responsible sectors.”
Issues highlighted in the meeting
Among the stakeholders who attended the meeting were parents, DLSU administrators, students, business establishments, local government officials, and members of the Philippine National Police.
“Over the years, this has been a problem, and even in our campaigns in the student government, this is raised. But one obvious thing is that most of these goers in Happy Thursday are not even our students. However, it has affected our community extensively in such a way that last year, we had a stressful debate with our administration as they proposed to have our University break moved to a Monday,” asserts University Student Government (USG) Vice President for External Affairs Reigner Sanchez.
He adds that if the business establishments violate certain policies or are putting the students in danger, the various stakeholders should impose stricter regulations and undergo rigorous assessments of these establishments.
Representatives of the establishments were also present in the meeting, and explain that they already have various protocols in place to ensure that students are not bringing drugs, that minors are being barred from entry, and that students are only allowed to drink at specific times, among others.
Meanwhile, members of the Philippine National Police cited the challenges of tracking down the circulation of drugs during Happy Thursdays. They are also seeking the cooperation of the students, DLSU administration, parents, and establishments involved to lessen the cases of drug use in these business establishments. Other cases they cited involve the students’ stolen valuables.
DLSU-PUSO President Atty. Dionisio Donato Garciano argues that despite the fact that most of the attendees of Happy Thursday are non-Lasallians, the University must still exhaust all means to resolve the various issues because “they are DLSU’s neighbors.”
“If we organize ourselves into one responsive regulatory body, then I believe–I’m not saying that it will be totally eradicated–I believe that we will move forward in spirit and order, making the job of our law enforcement agencies a lot easier,” Atty. Garciano adds. “We will come up with the cleanest policies that will govern our area as an association, [so that] our problems will lessen. That is what I am proposing right now.”
Sanchez proposes that CCTV cameras will be one of the most effective solutions for business establishments to track down drugs and thieves, among others. To prevent the buying and selling of drugs, more buy-bust operations should be in place as well. He adds that it is fortunate that some bars have bouncers who are strictly implementing their rules and regulations. “At the end of the day, the students should practice moderate drinking wherever they may be,” he shares.
On the other hand, DLSU Commercial Law Department Assistant Professor Jocelyn Cruz expresses that the establishments should essentially change their business.
“Kung maaari po na baguhin natin ang ating negosyo. Yung ibang unibersidad naman sa ASEAN, wala naman po mga bars na tabing-tabi sa unibersidad. Nakikita ko po ang mga bata kung paano sila mag-behave. Napakarami po negosyo na maaaring pag-isipan na makakatulong po sa ating komunidad,” she states. (If possible, please change your business. The other ASEAN universities, they don’t even have bars nearby. I can see how the children behave. There are many other businesses you can think of that can help our community.)
The first meeting of the regulatory board serves as an initial look at the issues experienced during Happy Thursday. According to Atty. Garciano, more meetings will be organized in the future to finalize certain policies and rules to follow in line with the so-called weekly tradition.