August 28, 2022 (10:47 AM)

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Pressing for deterrent action and other necessary measures for the safety of students with face-to-face classes, the Samahan ng Mga Mag-Aaral ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Davao (SAMAHAN), through the Office of the SAMAHAN Vice President (OSVP), urged the City Government of Davao to conduct a crime prevention and self-defense seminar. 

Through the Resolution No. 020-2022, SAMAHAN initiated a solution countering concerns compromising students’ safety and security, given that several from the university have allegedly experienced street crimes outside the campus. 

Despite the alarm on public safety, Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte recently slammed netizens posting unverified and false information on hold-up and kidnapping cases online. However, Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) student legislators still refuse the shun on the occurrence of street crimes. 

“Whether or not these allegations are accurate, the issue nonetheless necessitates action from the City Government of Davao in order to provide assurance and peace of mind,” clause 10 of the resolution states.

Approved by the 2nd Student Assembly on August 24, 2022, the proposal introduces a two-part Crime Prevention and Self-defense seminar. The first part encompasses updated measures that the city government implements, emergencies, information drives on police stations, reporting crimes, and routes of police patrols, while the second phase builds on self-defense training and a forum in ensuring public safety and vigilance.  

“In close coordination with the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), [this] would help the students of the Ateneo de Davao University and other students of Davao city with their concerns in public safety,” SAMAHAN Vice President (SVP) Mary Niñalyn Espuelas wrote.

‘Not a fix-all type of response’ – SAMAHAN VP  

SAMAHAN and its departments have convened to discuss strategies for the resolution to be recognized. As per the SVP, it was challenging due to the limited data concerning the incidents and reports.

“Hence, together with the SAMAHAN Research and Development, we steered our plan towards implementing our suggestion, which is the crime prevention and self-defense seminar, to the university,” Espuelas said.

According to the SAMAHAN Vice President, SAMAHAN will conduct a seminar to see if the demand is high. If proven in demand, the seminar will be pushed in partnership with government agencies central to its implementation. Later, a survey will be conducted to determine whether the seminar mitigated students’ concerns about public safety.

“If the survey results manifest the seminar as helpful, it will stand as data to show the City Government of Davao that this has been effective for our university and that there is a demand,” Espuelas told Atenews.

The AdDU autonomous student government is bound to partner with the SAMAHAN Research and Development, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Ateneo Student Security Force, and Logistics for the seminar’s implementation.

“It is true that this seminar is a concrete and somewhat proactive response to prevent more incidents, but it is more important to note that this is not a fix-all type of response,” the SVP reminded.

Aside from urging the city government to conduct the seminar, SAMAHAN emphasized clauses 10 and 11 of Resolution 020-2022 to allow the directed officials to implement a concrete solution to contain street crimes.

Before formally passing the resolution to the City Government of Davao, SAMAHAN will pursue implementation of the seminar in the university first.

“If the resolution is not approved or heard, we will reach out to the institutions within the city with the data we gathered from the survey after the seminar as a recommendation for them to do it in their schools.”

SAMAHAN clarified that ensuring public safety will continue whether or not the city government takes heed of the resolution.

Alternatives in the absence of guarantees

Preemptive of the city government’s response, member of the Student Assembly and Sectoral Representative of the Ateneo Lumad Students Organization Jet Salazar proposed equipping Ateneans with knowledge using the SAMAHAN Central Board’s Department of Disaster Risk Reduction and management (DRRM).

“With no guarantees of acknowledgment, we move with controlling what we can control,” Salazar forwarded as an alternative to the SVP’s resolution.

Admittedly, Salazar noted that launching information drives inclusive of basic tips, essential applications to download, and contacts to dial remain inadequate to combat street crimes. Still, considering the unpredictability of crimes, the representative suggested they “bank on providing students with knowledge.”

To promote long-lasting safety and vigilance among the student body, fellow assembly member Mikaela Balagot opened that the probable solution is to make students feel that they are guarded by the institution, which SAMAHAN and relative departments frontline in.  

“As a legislative body, the assembly can only do so much lang din within the scope of its power in actualizing and processing security measures legislatively,” Balagot said.

Alarming rates of robbery and kidnapping

In the past weeks, various theft and kidnapping incidents sparked concerns among Davaoenos when several videos of the said incidents circulated on social media platforms. However, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) denied the allegations of the rising crimes in the city.

In the statement of DCPO, they said that investigation was already conducted in the places where robbery and kidnapping was allegedly happening, and it was validated that there were no cases reported on the places with alleged robbery and kidnapping cases.

“Kanang mga ginapost, gi-validate naman namo sa mga kada-estasyon kung asa man to na-belong ang mga places nga gipang-mention nga ingon nahitabo upon negative, walay naka-report ug walay nitapatim-aw nga complainant na biktima sa pagpag hold-up,” Police Major General and DCPO spokesperson Teresita Gaspan clarified in an interview with SunStar Davao.

Consequently, Gaisano Grand Mall Bajada also released a statement refuting the accusations of robbery happening on the premises of the mall.

“This is to inform the public not to believe the fake news circulating about a series of hold-up and robbery incidents that happened inside our mall. Upon our investigation, these allegations are baseless and untrue causing unwarranted fear and worry to the public,” Gaisano Mall of Davao stated on their Facebook page.

Despite the statements denying the prevalent theft and hold-up in the city and the affirmation of the local police that the posts circulating online were a scam, some students still expressed their apprehension for their safety.

“Based on personal experience, I don’t feel safe anymore. Every time I get a message for me to be safe and to share my location, or when I get the urge to clutch my phone tighter when walking and wear my backpack in front, the point stands. I honestly don’t feel the assurance; in fact, sometimes I feel like they were mocking the victims and invalidating their experiences,” AdDU student Hannah Nicole Bitana shared during a virtual interview with Atenews.

Bitana added that the City Government of Davao should advance a better strategy to assure the Davaoeños of their safety such as taking the right measures against crime intervention, and not merely settle the issues by tagging the posts as fraud. 

Besides, Bitana also shared her views about the SAMAHAN OVP’s resolution, stating that the initiative by the OVP opened up opportunities for Ateneans to learn how to react and defend themselves when faced with potential danger.

“As a female Atenean living in Davao City, I find it very relevant especially since there are rising cases of theft and kidnapping incidents in the city. If granted by the city government, I am interested in attending the said seminar as it would allow me to exercise my right to public safety,” Bitana added.



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