Monday, November 10, 2008
I earned enough from paper editing the previous week so that after my class, I headed straight to UP to pay for my tuition. Getting past the highway took me 15 minutes but the kilometric stretch from Old Balara to MWSS was agonizing in an hour-long traffic jam, so I grew anxious that the cashier would close just when it’s my turn in the queue to part with my money. My mind raced, scheming a hysterical scene in order for the tellers to accept my payment even past office hours. I left my krystal at home so I had no choice but to run in such a manner that would make Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros weep in frustration. Two minutes before the operations in the PNB wrapped up, I was all ready to treat myself to a twenty-peso (“twinkle” in gay parlance, according to Niño and Edwin) apple shake.
I was about to leave the fruit shake stall to buy isaw at Mang Larry’s when police sirens erupted in the air. Kibitzers started to speculate that the mobiles must be running after the holduppers of the bank. Which bank? Holduppers in UP? What are the UPD Police doing then? I could not trust hearsays, so I had to find for myself.
An online source revealed that hours before my arrival at UP, an armored van of the Philippine Veterans Bank branch located in Bahay ng Alumni was robbed, with the masked robbers peppering a teller and two security guards with bullets before fleeing with bags believed to contain money. This is the latest of the crimes I know of which have happened in the campus, the earlier ones including an Ikot jeep holdup in which a varsity, jumping out of the passenger seat in an effort to escape, smashed his head on the pavement and eventually died of hemorrhage. Another is the broad daylight holdup of a couple, the husband being stabbed dead. Hazing, rape, murder, all of these are disturbing, enough for the average person to want to have the campus tightly guarded by the police.
Here comes the problem: if the existing security force in UP would so much as get reinforcement from outside police, even perhaps the military, there is a great danger that the latter would just sow fear or, worse, human rights violations in the supposedly liberal academic community. Come to think: the outside society is actually peopled by the military and the police, and yet crimes are still perpetuated. The UPDP should just be strengthened instead of putting the state university at the mercy of repressive state apparatuses. I believe that the community values its freedom as much as it does its life.