By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA –Schools are supposed to be a safe place for students. But recently a graduating student of political science at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City was attacked right inside the University Student Council (USC) office.
Lordei Camille Anjuli Hina is now in critical condition after she was attacked by an alleged robber and three other accomplices on Wednesday, Feb 1.
UP’s official student publication, the Philippine Collegian, surmised that Hina may have been hit with an ice pick just above the left temple, fracturing her skull.
One of the three suspects was arrested by the UP police on the same day. Carlo Pecayo, 35, is now detained at the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 9. The QCPD is also conducting a manhunt for Pecayo’s two other unidentified accomplices. Hina’s bag and two laptops were recovered by the police.
The Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (Stand-UP) and the progressive youth organization Anakbayan condemned the attempted robbery of the USC and the attack on Hina. Lordei Hina is a member of Stand-UP and former secretary-general of Center for Nationalist Studies (CNS).
Stand-UP blamed the weak security in the university as the result of budget cutbacks for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (MOOE), and by extension, UP’s security personnel. “This school year, an estimated P9 million has been allotted for security, a P13 million slash from last year’s P82 million budget,” Stand-UP said in a statement.
In an earlier report published in Bulatlat.com, it was revealed that contractualization is also being implemented in UP, with the first severely affected covering the university’s security personnel.
“The attack on Lordei, while shocking, was not entirely unexpected. Crime is never completely eradicable, and several students and other members of the UP community have also been victims of violence; including, most recently, UP Los Baños student Given Grace and a mother and son found dead in their own home in the UP Diliman area last December. Incidences of theft are also numerous, such as those perpetrated by the so-called ‘dugo-dugo’ and ‘budol-budol’ gang in UP Diliman,” the STAND-UP said.
“Right now you can’t eliminate crime, but what the University can do is prevent it from happning in the campus and on its constituents. But thanks to cuts in the funding of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) such as UP, university administrators are hampered from doing so,” Anakbayan national chairman Vencer Crisostomo said in a separate statement.
There are steps which should be taken in order to ensure the security of the UP System, according to Stand-UP. Violence and crime might be more easily prevented if only the UP Administration had the capacity to enforce tighter security measures, aided by sophisticated technology and adequate human resources, Stand-UP said.
The ‘No ID No Entry’ policy, according to the organization, is a palliative measure; it is not enough to address UP’s security concerns.
“Over the past years, it has been paradoxical to watch UP’s security become stricter and yet more neglected — for instance, the administration has cited the ‘No ID No Entry’ policy and the CCTV cameras in several buildings as proof of security. But the number of regular security guards in UP Diliman dwindled from 149 to 111 this 2012,” they added.
President Benigno S. Aquino III justifies budget cuts in state universities and colleges by saying that SUCs should become “self-sufficient,” by generating its own revenues through tuition fee increases and other income-generating measures. But according to Stand-UP, what happened to Hina was proof that a “self-sufficient public school” cannot afford to spend enough on some important things, like facilities and adequate security.
“A balance must be struck: the best way to protect UP is not to impose excessive limitations on access to the university, but to ensure adequate funding for its security. We in Stand-UP believe, and are ready to defend, that the country’s premier state tertiary institution must always maintain its public character— a university for and of the people.”
The organization urged UP students to pray and hope for the speedy recovery of Hina. “Stand-UP enjoins every Iskolar ng Bayan to pray and hope for the speedy recovery of Lordei, who remains hospitalized, and to extend their support to Lordei’s family and friends, who are going through a terrible ordeal.”
Hina’s friends also flooded her Facebook wall with get-well-soon messages and prayers for her fast recovery.
Crisostomo pointed to the irony that “The national government is always saying that UP can survive without ‘sufficient’ funding. But now, Lordei is fighting for her survival, thanks to the insensitivity and negligence of the national administration.”