In view of recent national security concerns, we are sharing this column by Jarius Bondoc published on The Philippine Star last September 5, 2016. We encourage all students, faculty, and staff of the University to be mindful of their surroundings as this national policy is being implemented.

Work, play, and pray as we always do. But be aware of personal security. Terrorists want to disrupt our way of life. Don’t let them. They intend to do it unnoticed. Detect them. Their acts and threats must not scare us. Let us show each other and them that we are unfazed.

Go as usual to our office and school buildings, malls and cinema houses, restaurants and stadiums, churches and mosques. But be safety-conscious. Know where the security personnel, fire alarms, and emergency exits are.

If you see someone acting suspicious, or a bag left unattended, report it to the police or security guards. Do not play hero by confronting the person or inspecting the bag. You may only get yourself and others into trouble.

Suspicious behavior and circumstances: persons in buildings or areas who do not appear to be conducting legitimate business; those monitoring areas, buildings, or entrances; unauthorized presence in restricted, sensitive, or private areas; those taking photographs of critical facilities; those asking detailed information about physical security and/or information with no apparent need for it; persons wearing clothing not consistent with the weather conditions (bulky coat in warm weather, etc.); abandoned parcels or other items in unusual locations or high traffic areas; individual attempting to access utility locations (water, electrical, petroleum, telecommunications, information systems); multiple persons who appear to be working in unison committing the above.

Be alert to abandoned vehicles; unexpected/unfamiliar delivery trucks; unfamiliar vehicles parked for long periods; vehicles containing unusual/suspicious parcels or material; vehicles arriving and being left behind at odd hours; substances leaking or spilling from vehicles.

Airports, seaports, bus and train stations may tighten security. They’re for our own good. Bear with them. Arrive earlier than usual.

Stay indoors or away from crowds not out of fear, but because we need to rest, or avoid traffic and needlessly spend.

Refuse packages which are unexpected. Report suspicious packages to the police. Look out for: excessive postage; oily spots; protruding wires; heavy for its size; handwritten confidential notice.

The police and military may set up checkpoints, Malacañang has announced. Cooperate; be courteous and cheerful as they do their jobs.

If we are responsible for building or office security, here are some points: Don’t prop open building/residence hall entrance doors/window. Rectify these situations when we observe them. Account for and secure all sensitive material/information when not able to attend to it. Account for and secure sensitive deliveries in a timely manner. Secure all areas when not attended. Be aware of unfamiliar persons in or visitors to our office/lab. Protect access codes, combinations, and cards; change codes regularly. Report compromised codes to the person in charge of area. Be prepared: take time out to familiarize ourselves with building evacuation plans/routes. Report suspicious tampering with physical security (doors, locks, etc.). Talk with co-workers; know what is out of place (like unclaimed items).

If an attack does occur, lie flat on the floor, rest on the stomach, and try to protect the heart and head. Or hide behind any solid object that might protect us from gunfire. Stay put until the danger passes. If we have to move, do it on our stomach. When it’s safe to get up, leave the area right away. Hold the hands above our head to show we are unarmed and uninvolved in the attacks.

Additional safety recommendations: Closely monitor news reports and emergency alert systems on radio/TV. Expect delays, searches of bags, and restricted access to public buildings. Expect traffic, delays, and restrictions. Do not demand VIP treatment; in the eyes of others we can just be troublemakers. Take personal security precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime or terrorist attack. Do not travel into areas affected by the attack or is an expected terrorist target. Keep emergency supplies accessible. Be prepared to evacuate our home or shelter on order of local authorities. Develop and review family emergency plans. Be prepared for disasters. Assist neighbors who may need help. Avoid passing unsubstantiated information and rumors. Continue to enjoy individual freedom. Participate freely in travel, work and recreational activities. Take first-aid and CPR classes. Learn what critical facilities and specific hazards are located in our community. Increase individual or family emergency preparedness through training, maintaining good physical fitness and health, and storing food, water and emergency supplies. Keep recommended immunizations up to date. Know how to turn off power, gas, and water service to our houses. Volunteer to assist and support the community emergency response agencies.