Not again: Los Baños student robbed, stabbed

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Los Baños police chief Conrad Masongsong attributes the recurring crimes against students to police shortage

WHILE MOURNING. Criminals victimize another Los Baños student even as other residents still mourn 3 student killings.

MANILA, Philippines – The spate of crime against Los Baños students did not stop with 3 young individuals killed in the past 5 months. A 19-year-old University of the Philippines (UP) student was robbed and stabbed recently.

Peter Cruz, a first year arts student at the UP Open University in Los Baños, Laguna, sustained wounds in his hands, arms, and stomach after 2 robbers attacked him in his own apartment, Los Baños police chief Conrad Masongsong told Rappler in a phone interview.

Masongsong said the attack took place in Barangay Anos in Los Baños on Friday, March 9, at around 11:50 pm.

The 2 men, whom Masongsong described as “binatilyo” or young, ran away with Cruz’s laptop after the latter hit one of the robbers with a pipe.

The recent attack took place 5 days after a UP Los Baños student, Ray Bernard Peñaranda, died of a chest wound in a robbery past midnight Sunday, March 4. He was also 19. 

In February, a rape-murder led to the death of 14-year-old high school student Rochelle Geronda. When this took place, the rape-murder of 19-year-old Given Grace Cebanico, which happened in October 2011, remained fresh in the minds of Los Baños residents.

Police shortage

Masongsong attributed the problem in large part to police shortage.

Los Baños has around 53 policemen to protect a total population of 109,210, based on the latest statistics.

Masongsong said this is equivalent to a police-to-resident ratio of 1:4,000. The ideal ratio, he said, is 1:1,000.

Masongsong said that due to Peñaranda’s killing, which took place in Barangay Batong Malaki, local authorities temporarily assigned a higher number of policemen in the area. He said Batong Malaki now has around 20 to 30 policemen, including temporary “augmentation” forces from adjacent localities.

But Barangay Anos, where the robbery in Cruz’s apartment took place, does not have the same number of policemen. “Ang konsentrasyon, napapunta sa kabila,” he said. (The concentration of policemen went to the other barangay.)

Criticisms vs leadership

Meanwhile, the past 5 months’ killings have prompted criticisms against Los Baños Mayor Anthony Genuino, with a group suggesting this reflects his “reactive rather than proactive leadership.” 

Last week, Los Baños Vice Mayor Baby Sumangil bared proposals to stop the spate of student killings in their town. One of these is to impose a curfew on student dormers – a suggestion that students met with jeers.

In an interview with Rappler, Sumangil addressed 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.

Students comprise 2 out of 10 Los Baños residents, making their security a top concern. –

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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