DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The University of the Philippines Mindanao expressed regrets on the inconveniences to its constituents, especially to their students after some were locked inside their dormitory during the Opening Ceremonies of the Palarong Pambansa at the Davao City-UP Sports Complex last April 28.
In its official statement released on Monday, May 6, the UP Mindanao administration explained that the security measures “were pursuant to protocols for national security, as well as, for public safety; hence, beyond the control of the University.”
The statement added, “Nevertheless, the UP Mindanao administration sympathizes with those affected by the security measures during the Opening Ceremonies of the Palarong Pambansa considering the unfortunate circumstances.”
The administration assured the students that they are working together with the local government of Davao to craft policies including those related to security protocols “to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.”
“The University reiterates its commitment to uphold everyone’s rights to liberty and movement.”
Himati, the UP Mindanao student publication reported that students around the campus were asked to leave the premises earlier without prior notice.
Students living in the Elias B. Lopez (EBL) Dormitory were restrained to leave the dorm premises since 1:00 p.m. on that date, the report added.
President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to arrive and grace the opening ceremony of the National Games.
Student leaders and the UP Mindanao administration had a dialogue last April 30, where Vice Chancellor for Administration, Aurelia Luzviminda Gomez was reported saying that they were not informed about the students barred from leaving the EBL dormitory.
A text message was sent to the school official later that afternoon saying that there was a union in the dormitory planning to conduct a rally and the PSG (Presidential Security Group) advised not to allow them to leave.
Gomez responded that they should be allowed to go out.
Khyle Caballero, Vice Chairperson of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student Council (CHSS SC), clarified that there was no rally on that day, noting that the plates of Architecture students were possibly mistaken as placards.
Joel Sagadal, Land Management Officer explained that it is the protocol to ensure that there will be no movement in the area where the President is, one hour before and after the event, that could disturb the security of the President.
However, he emphasized that the administration should at least be informed for them to be prepared.
Student leaders also hit the report of several ununiformed men asking for UP Mindanao students who join rallies.
“We were playing volleyball in Kalimudan at that time when two men in civilian clothes approached us – one wearing a pink polo and the other one wearing black. They asked us if we know the students who join the rallies. Some students and vendors have also reported that they were also asked the same question,” said Jeo Olar, CHSS SC chairperson.
The students said they also saw posters red-tagging several UP students and progressive groups posted along the road going to UP Mindanao, particularly in Sitio Basak, Mintal, Davao City.
Ma. Teresa Escano, Director of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) did not condone the said act.
“Coming also from the perspective of OSA which is concerned with student welfare, maybe we can also remind them that while we understand the protocol, them, approaching the students and asking them to point out who are the reds here, is not right,” Escano said.
Students can file a report concerning the incidents, according to the UP Mindanao administration. (davaotoday.com)