By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday renewed his call for Congress to pass the bill that seeks to put in place tighter security measures in colleges and universities nationwide.
Angara made the call following the rescue of a 19-year-old college student of Colegio de San Juan de Letran who was reportedly kidnapped by his classmates.
The senator said the incident underscores the need for schools to review existing security procedures in campuses to ensure the safety of students and everyone else inside educational institutions.
“School safety is becoming a greater concern nowadays. That’s why we really need a law that will strictly enforce security measures in schools because these are supposed to be institutions meant for educating our youth and not for activities that promote violence,” Angara said.
Angara has filed Senate Bill No. 946 mandating all higher education institutions and technical vocational institutions to establish a Crime Prevention Committee that would formulate policies and strategies aimed at protecting the academic community from both internal and external threats to their safety and security, such as kidnapping, robbery, rape and other forms of violence.
Likewise, the bill calls for the formulation of policies that encourage students and employees to be responsible for the accurate and prompt reporting of all campus crimes to the police.
“Schools should be conducive to learning and intellectual discourse, not venues for violence and crime,” Angara stressed.
“ We must ensure a safe and secure environment for students to pursue their studies within these institutions without fear for their physical well-being,” he added.
The bill proposes a system of monitoring and recording, through local police agencies, of criminal activities committed even by off-campus student organizations whose members are students of the institution.
Universities and colleges will also be encouraged to conduct seminars and trainings on crime and drug prevention and control in partnership with the National Police Commission (Napolcom) regional office or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Patrol.
Last week, police arrested 10 suspects who were allegedly involved in the kidnapping case of the 19-year-old student. Seven of the suspects were the victim’s classmates.
The other suspects were said to be students from other schools in Metro Manila. They allegedly demanded a P30-million ransom from the victim’s family.
The victim was reportedly abducted Wednesday evening, August 1, and was rescued on Friday morning, August 3, by the Philippine National Police (PNP) led by the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.