(The Freeman)
Updated September 29, 2010

CEBU, Philippines – The University of San Jose Recoletos (USJ-R) defended its student, who was accused as the one responsible for the blast that took place in Manila after the final day of the Bar Examinations last Sunday.

Lawyer Jonathan Capanas, dean of the USJ-R School of Law, said that Jed Carlo Lazaga, who was suspected of having a hand in the incident, is a fall guy.

Lazaga was in Manila as part of the school’s bar operations team to support their graduates taking the examinations.

“Nahulog nga fall guy si Jed, but I strongly believe that anytime soon mu-klaro na ni kung unsa ju’y storya,” Capanas said.

The dean along with lawyer Danilo Yap went to the Police Regional Office-7 headquarters to request for security for their student.

Chief Supt. Ager Ontog, PRO-7 director, said that the Philippine National Police is willing to provide security to Lazaga.

“They are going to provide protection for our student kay unfortunately nahimo to siyang suspect na walay klarong basis. Mao na nga ato lang g’yud gipangayuan og support diri kay para tawn dili mabutang sa delikado ang kinabuhi sa atong estudyante labi na karon ba na gihimo siyang suspect,” Capanas explained.

He also said that they are currently doing their best to clear the name of Lazaga and also the name of the school as it is “premature and unfair” to accuse the Cebuano of starting the trouble.

Capanas said that Lazaga is not a problem student.

“Wala na siya’y record nga binuang sa school. Iyang mga grado competitive. Niadto s’ya (Manila) naghago, gasto pa man gani siya para mutabang kay volunteer man ni s’ya nato n’ya na-victim man sya. Actually, he is a victim and yet gi-consider siya as suspect.” Capanas said.

The school official speculated that the authorities had a hard time identifying the real culprit behind the attack that was why they immediately picked up Lazaga.

Lazaga was reportedly with other members of their school’s Bar operations team at Taft Avenue waiting for the school bus of San Sebastian College, a sister school of USJ-R, when the explosion took place.

After that, members of a fraternity reportedly ganged up on Lazaga.

His classmates tried to help him, but decided to call their professors and the dean who were staying at the Corporate Inn.

Lazaga was brought by the fraternity members to the police station and was allegedly threatened that if he will deny the accusations they will kill him.

It was also alleged that the fraternity men also got Lazaga’s wallet with his school ID and ATM inside it.

When the policemen got back to the station after responding to the blast, they were reportedly surprised to see Lazaga there.

They did take his statement and the school provided legal assistance to the student.

Aside from giving legal support, USJ-R officials also want Lazaga to undergo stress debriefing.

“We have already talked with our religious administrators, gi-brief na nako ang mga pari kay unfair sad kaayo ni sa mga pari nga pirte nila’ng provide og support unya ma-implicate ang atong eskwelahan sa wala’y klaro,” he said.

“He (Lazaga) was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Capanas lamented.

The school is seriously considering filing charges against those who implicated Lazaga.

Capanas said they already made an appeal to the Court to have the Bar Exams held in Visayas particularly in Cebu.

“I could not see any reason why examinations cannot be held in areas like Cebu nga ang sistema na atong gamiton pwede ra man sa PRC nya this can be possible most likely after next year kay next year magsugod na man gud ang multiple choice sa bar examinations, unya malikayan na hopefully ang incident like this,” Capanas said.

Rama: Lax Security

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has arranged a meeting with officials of USJ-R to know the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s incident.

The mayor said that it seems unfair that a Cebuano has been tagged responsible for the incident.

The mayor, who is a lawyer and was at the venue prior to the incident, observed security lapses in the area where the blast happened.

“It was a national event treated locally. I was there. I saw the error starting first Sunday. How did the name of a Cebuano come into the picture? Dili unta to mahitabo kung in the first place, gitan-aw pa to (security) from the Supreme Court level,” Rama said.

Rama is blaming the police for the lax security.

The mayor was there to accompany his son, who took the examination.

He said that had the police been visible, the incident would have been prevented.

Rama will also meet with the deans of other law schools here to discuss with them how they can protect Cebuano Bar examinees in the future.

“Dapat gyud that in the future, there is someone to look after our contingent, someone na mutan-aw sa ilahang security because not all parents can accompany their children there unlike me,” Rama said. – Jessica Ann R. Pareja, Niña G. Sumacot and Riz Joy Tumulak and Maluna Sanguenza, USJR Interns/NLQ (FREEMAN)

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