Where’s Mayor Ton Genuino?

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These past months, a series of crimes has shaken the town of Los Baños in Laguna province. Last October, a University of the Philippines Los Baños student, Given Grace Cebanico, was raped and killed. Last week, three more crimes were committed, only days within each other. Rochel Geronda, a student of Los Baños National High School, was found raped and killed; Ray Bernard Peñaranda, an agriculture student of UPLB was stabbed to death; 32-year-old Rey Tamayo was killed hours after Peñaranda’s murder.

Crimes violate the right to live and the right to security. Every person has the right to live without the fear of being violated. While crimes seem inevitable in our society, it is the government’s obligation to protect its citizens.

The series of crimes in Los Baños is shocking and should be addressed, fast. The local government must do something about it, given that the place is home to thousands of students who are away from their families. Many lives have been wasted. Lives which had a lot promise, lives which could have greatly contributed to our country’s development.

The University of the Philippines has always been proud of its excellence in educating young minds, and many students have found their home in UPLB. But now, the series of crimes has put the students in fear and unease. What is excellent education without a secure environment?

UPLB trains its students to better contribute to the country, but how can they do this if they face untimely death as victims of crimes? We always say that the youth are the future of our nation but where will our future lead us when the youth are being violated?

One cannot help but ask where the authorities are and what the local government is doing amid all these human rights violations. The people of Los Baños are mourning, aghast, and disgusted that the local government seems to be doing nothing. The rape-slay case of Given Grace should have alerted authorities into heightening the security measures in the town. But it seems nothing has been done. And now, more crimes have been committed and more lives have been lost. Is this a reflection of a reactive rather than a proactive leadership?

UPLB students are asking, “Nasaan si Ton Genuino?” (Where is Ton Genuino?). Genuino is the mayor of the town. The people of Los Baños are crying for justice. Let justice be served without delay.

The local government might as well be reminded of what the philosopher Seneca said: “He who does not prevent a crime, encourages it.”

—RENEE JULIENE KARUNUNGAN, council member, Dakila-Philippine Collective For Modern Heroism, Unit 3A, VS1 Bldg., 34 Kalayaan Ave., Quezon City

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