Security around UST to be tightened in Nov. for annual bar exams

MANILA — Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has ordered a tight security cordon around the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus where this year’s bar exams will be held this month.

After visiting the grave of his best friend, Fernando Poe Jr., at the Manila North Cemetery Tuesday morning, Estrada disclosed that he has tasked the Manila Police to prevent any incident similar to the 2010 bar exam bombing that injured 47 people.

The mayor said the city government does not take any chance in protecting the general public, particularly the thousands of examinees who will be taking the bar exams on Nov. 6, 13, 20 and 27.

“We will utilize all our available law enforcement and protective units to ensure the orderly and peaceful conduct of the (bar) examinations. We can’t let any untoward incident happen again,” he said.

Estrada said he has directed Manila Police director Sr. Supt. Joel Coronel to deploy a sufficient number of policemen around the UST campus, as well as Manila’s rescue units to place on standby at the school grounds paramedics and ambulances during the four Sundays of exams.

Coronel said the police will coordinate with the city government and the Supreme Court bar exams committee headed by Senior Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. in securing UST.

“For this year, again, the whole perimeter of UST shall be secured, so meaning Espana Ave., Lacson, Dapitan and P. Noval streets will be closely guarded,” he said.

“We will be deploying round-the-clock patrol and police visibility in the area, especially on the first Sunday when we expect a lot of people will be proceeding to the area,” he added.

The westbound portion of Espana Ave. going to Quiapo will also be closed to vehicular traffic in the morning and in the afternoon during the four Sundays to give way to the thousands of examinees.

On all four Sundays of November, police will also enforce the city ordinance that bans the sale, use or distribution of liquor within 100 meters of the exam venue, he added.

“That liquor ban takes effect the night before the bar exams and until midnight the following day. This is to prevent previous occasions when there were members of fraternities, organizations and other associations drinking along the streets during the exam,” Coronel said.

On the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2010, an Mk2 grenade thrown by a fraternity member exploded outside the De La Salle University (DLSU) along Taft Ave. in Malate, just as thousands of bar examinees were exiting the school grounds.

The explosion injured 47 people, including two law graduates who needed amputations.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the indictment of Anthony Leal Nepomuceno, an Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity member and the prime suspect in the grenade attack.

A year after the blast, the yearly Supreme Court-administered bar exams were transferred from DLSU to UST. Lily Ramos/PNA-northboundasia.com