First of three parts: The dangers around De La Salle

It was reported in the July issue of The Lasallian that in most cases where DLSU students become the victims of crimes such as robbery and theft, the criminal is usually a third person not affiliated with the school; but in cases involving brawls, it is usually students against each other.

These heinous incidents usually happen in smoking and drinking establishments near the University. “Reported fights happen in Green Place (GP) and in Beach House usually on Thursdays,” Dionisio Escarez, chief of the Security and Safety Office (SSO) recalls.

Brawn and brawls

Kapag nakakainom mga estudyante, nagkakaaway-away dahil nagkakayayabangan, nagkakaaangasan, banggaan. Madalas rin dahil sa selosan sa babae o sa frat. [Under the influence of alcohol, students fight because of pride, loose words and bruised egos. Other possible reasons include jealousy and fraternities],” Kuya Chito from Green Place (GP) imparts to The Lasallian.

More often than not, direct confrontation does happen. “Minsan nagkakatinginan lang talaga. Tapos ayun, nagkakaangasan at nagkakapikunan. Yung iba naman napagtitripan at may kaaway nananugod dun sa inuman [At times, no words are needed to provoke a fight. Sometimes it gets too far and someone’s cool just bursts, causing the brawl] Rommel Mataragnon (III, AB-POM) shares.

Both of them describe that there would be punching, hitting with liquor bottles and chairs and stabbing. “What is worse is when someone would happen to have a gun and [someone] innocent dies,” Mataragnon went on.

However, the drinking establishments do not ban the students who cause trouble. Instead, they mediate and send them outside their establishments when fights happen. Kuya Chito says that there would even be times when their own staff gets hurt when they break up the fights.

Instances of theft also happen in places like GP. Kuya Chito shares that outsiders who have fake IDs, pretend as students. Thinking that they are also with their fellow Lasallians, the customers of GP, lose their guard on their valuables, which in turn get stolen.

The Discipline Office (DO) and the SSO respond to cases that involve student welfare. Aside from the University’s own discipline and security officers, barangay tanods and police officers would right away respond when such instances come around. There would be police mobiles that scout the areas commonly reported for violent incidences. The staff of the establishment also constantly reminds the students to be alert of their valuables and not cause any trouble.

The visibility of guards and officers are believed to also deter the possibility of brawls and theft from happening. “At the very least, people are aware that we are always on guard for what may happen,” Nimpha Baldeo, DO officer-in-charge (OIC), confirms.

Operating against the law

It is under Manila City ordinance that such establishments cannot operate within 50 meters of schools and other educational institutions. Many of the establishments around DLSU are not even five meters away from campus.

DO OIC Nimpha Baldeo admits that the establishments are still allowed to operate because they have licenses and business permits. They are also private enterprises, which makes it harder for the DO and SSO to step in when criminal cases occur, Baldeo adds.

There is a 200-meter rule in the student handbook referring to the jurisdiction of the University when it comes to cases that concern the following: brawls, physical injuries, drugs, vandalism, direct assault or threatening, theft, sexual advances and gambling. “It does not explicitly involve drinking,” Baldeo emphasizes.

Kenneth Santos (III, LMG) claims that the establishments sell liquor to students and even to minors. They get into fights because of the after effects of intoxication so he thinks the DO and SSO should step up their game in bringing down such establishments that promote vices. “What happens to the students if they get in the school intoxicated?” Santos asks rhetorically.

“It is very difficult to control students from drinking especially if they really want to,” Baldeo laments. The most that the DO and SSO can do is to vigilantly monitor the areas where drinking liquors are involved. They also remind the students that their offices are of assistance anytime when necessary. The SSO first files the reports regarding student crimesthen the concerned students are finally turned over to the DO.

Efforts yet to materialize

Baldeo mentions that they always give out their contact numbers so that students can easily reach her office when student welfare is jeopardized. “[At] anytime of the day, they can text, call or email us to inform us of any unusual event. They don’t even have to tell us their names,” Baldeo assures.

Escarez of SSO shares that they have been complaining about the establishments and have even asked former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to endorse the cancellation of their licenses. “Gusto naming ipareview yung permits, kung pwede sana irevoke yung licenses nila kasi masyadong malapit sa school at nagbebenta sila sa mga students at paminsan sa minors pa. [We wanted to have their permits reviewed and even revoked especially those establishments very near to the schools. There are even establishments that do not have permits but sell liquors to students and even to minors.]

The SSO sends letters, addressed to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, to the Manila City Hall to resolve these problems. The other colleges in the vicinity of DLSU are also one with the SSO’s efforts through the Task Force Safe Schools.

“The law applies to all, otherwise none at all”

PO2 Joseph Mortillo of Police Station-9 in A. Mabini St. confirms that they too do not have the authority to apprehend the said establishments. “The Manila Traffic Bureau and Parking (MTBP) section is responsible for the establishments that bypass the 50-meter distance city ordinance. They call for the help of the precinct ones they have verified the complaints against the establishments selling liquor to students,” Mortillo explains.

Concerned citizens should file a complaint against said establishments and submit it to the MTBP office in the Manila City Hall before any legal action takes place. The permits, licenses, and other legal documents will be checked before the MTPB acts upon the complaint.

One of the policemen in the station disclosed to The Lasallian his knowledge about the existence of such establishments around the University. However, Mortillo admits that it is difficult for his precinct to independently apprehend the drinking places since the latter, being in a private business area, may file a counter suit on the grounds of human rights violations.

The question then remains: If the 200 meter jurisdiction of the DO and SSO cannot reprimand the drinking places which disturb the student life of the Lasallians, who can stop these establishments when even the city law does not seem to apply to them?

By Juan Batalla

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