Will curfew stop Los Baños killings?

The Los Baños council's curfew proposal stirs an online debate

MOURNING STUDENTS. A student curfew proposal comes as the UPLB community mourns a student's death.

MANILA, Philippines – The Los Baños council’s proposal to impose a curfew on students has divided netizens on whether such a move could prevent a spate of student killings in the area.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who only recently opened a Twitter account, said he opposes the curfew. “Crime in (Los Baños) is the result of poor law enforcement and crime prevention. (A) curfew is immaterial and irrelevant,” Topacio said.’

A curfew would violate the Bill of Rights, he explained. “(A) student curfew is discriminatory and runs roughshod over freedom of movement,” he added.

Facebook user Erika Shiela said curfews “will never be enough.” “Interestingly, how will they be able to implement curfews if prior to its implementation, no one one will be accepting the accountability?”

On Tuesday, March 7, Los Baños Vice Mayor Baby Sumangil bared a suggestion from the municipal council to impose a midnight curfew for students, saying this could deter criminals from attacking them. 

Blaming the mayor

Meanwhile, netizens like Gary Hernandez criticized Los Baños Mayor Anthony Genuino for the killings of 3 students – Given Grace Cebanico, Rochelle Geronda, and Ray Bernard Penaranda – that took place during his watch.

“People are angered by the inactivity of (Genuino). Harebrained schemes like this even anger them more,” Hernandez said. “Pink lampposts then, now a curfew?”

“Mayor Genuino, here’s a suggestion. Why don’t you try staying in (UPLB) and do what you were elected for – to serve the people?” he added.

Genuino was not in his office when Rappler sought him for comment on criticisms against him Tuesday, March 6.

In an interview with Los Baños Vice Mayor Baby Sumangil on the same day, Sumangil said Genuino’s administration is not washing his hands of shortcomings. “That’s why we will employ stronger measures,” she said.

Better security

Other netizens responded from the point-of-view of students.

3RD VICTIM. The murder of Ray Bernard Penaranda by holduppers in UP Los Banos sows fear among parents and students. Photo from Penaranda's Facebook account

“Go ahead, punish the students for the incompetence of the police,” said Twiteter user @weiwitch.

Lilibeth Frondoso, mother of a UPLB student, sarcastically called the midnight curfew a “brilliant” idea of local officials. “That only penalizes the victims! High police visibility, adequate police-to-population ratio, adequate police equipment, and smart, well-trained cops are just some of the answers,” she said.

Netizen @kristinebaguio also said the Los Banos government should instead improve its security measures rather than impose a curfew.

“Yes, (I lived in Los Baños and had) no worries going home even at past 2 a.m., @ninnabeatrice commented.

For @akosiays, the big picture is most important. “Give jobs to the masses, educate them, give them proper health care, and nobody will do harm to anybody,” the Twitter user said. – Rappler.com