Los Baños mulls student curfew

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Vice Mayor Baby Sumangil says a midnight curfew could deter criminals from attacking students

3RD VICTIM. The murder of Ray Bernard Penaranda by holduppers in UP Los Banos sows fear among parents and students. 

[UPDATED] LAGUNA, Philippines – The Los Baños council is mulling a midnight curfew for student dormers to prevent a repeat of the spate of killings in their municipality, Vice Mayor Baby Sumangil said Tuesday evening, March 6.

Sumangil announced this during her speech at the indignation rally against the killings of Los Baños students Given Grace Cebanico, Rochelle Geronda, and Ray Bernard Peñaranda. The rally was held at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), the school of both Cebanico and Peñaranda.

GOODBYE. Friends of Ray Bernard Penaranda deliver eulogies for their friend

INDIGNATION. Students hold a rally to protest the string of crimes against students in Los Banos

Sumangil noted that UPLB already implements a 10 p.m. curfew for students within university grounds.

Sa aming palagay po ay kailangan na naming gumawa ng extra measures dahil pagdating po ng alas diyes ay narito na po kayo sa labas,” she told her audience composed mostly of UPLB students. (In our opinion, we need to implement extra measures because you’re already outside the campus by 10 p.m.)

The vice mayor also bared a plan to implement a no-loitering law by midnight in Los Baños.

Met with jeers

Some in the audience met the municipal council’s proposals with jeers even as she spoke.

In an interview with Rappler after her speech, Sumangil defended these proposed measures.

“If they will be having a curfew, they will be forced to go home, study at home, buy whatever they have to buy before 12 o’ clock, eat at the dorm, study at the dorm,” she said.

This, Sumangil explained, will not give criminals a motive to attack students.

The vice mayor also responded to criticisms that the Los Baños government committed shortcomings in connection with the killings.

Gano’n naman parati eh. Dito sa part naman namin, we are not saying na wala kaming kasalanan. That’s why we will employ stronger measures,” she said. (That’s always the case. On our part, we are not saying that we did not commit shortcomings.)

Sumangil noted efforts, among other things, to increase the number of police outposts as well as to install CCTV cameras in strategic locations.

Housing for dormers

In a separate speech, Bayan Muna party-list Rep Teddy Casiño pushed for more housing facilities and dormitories for UPLB to prevent a repeat of the killings of 3 students in a span of 5 months.  “Sa panahon po na maitatayo na ang dormitoryong ‘yan ay ide-dedicate po natin sa kanila,” he said. (Once a dormitory is built, we will dedicate that to them.)

On Monday, March 5, the UPLB community also staged an indignation rally, at that time to mourn the recent death of Peñaranda as well as those of 2 other students from Los Baños.

The killings have alarmed Los Baños community members.

Panganiban said his hope is for the killings not to taint their town’s reputation.

Gusto lang po sana iparating na habang may buhay, may pag-asa… Hindi naman forever ganito ang mangyayari eh. Nagkataon lang na ngayon sunud-sunod,” he said.  (I just want to say there is always hope… This is not forever the case. It just so happened that the killings happened one after the other.)

In an open letter to Los Baños residents, Mayor Anthony Genuino expressed regrets over the student killings. “Lubos ang aking paninindigan na maparusahan kaagad ang mga salarin sa magkakasunod na krimeng naganap,” Genuino said. (I stand firm that the perpetrators of the spate of killings should be punished.)

He also suggested that outsiders might have perpetrated the incidents. “Marami sa mga nasakote ng kapulisan na sangkot sa iligal na droga at pagnanakaw ay mga residente ng mga karatig-bayan o lalawigan,” he noted. (Many of those accosted by the police for involvement in illegal drugs and robbery are residents of nearby provinces.)

Meanwhile, activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Southern Tagalog criticized Genuino for the killings that took place under his watch.

Bayan Southern Tagalog noted that it has only been 5 months since Given Grace Cebanico, another UPLB student, died in the hands of criminals who raped her. The group said it is not enough for the local government to sack its police chief and over 50 other officials in relation to the crimes.

 “Ang kinakailangan ng bayang ito ay isang komprehensibong plano para sa peace and order,” said Bayan Southern Tagalog secretary general XL Fuentes in a statement. (What this town needs is a comprehensive plan for peace and order).  – Rappler.com 

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com