PNP, AFP offer help to find missing UST coed

Authorities have expressed desire to help the parents of a University of Santo Tomas (UST) student who went missing after a supposed immersion with farmers last December.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde advised the family to coordinate with police personnel in searching for 18-year-old Rizza Divine Camingawan.

“We want to help the relatives of this student so talk to us and we will help you search for your daughter,” Albayalde said in a press conference Saturday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, in a text message to the Philippine News Agency, added that they will extend help to find the missing legal management student.

“Help will be given if the parents demand that we step in. Right now, it is a police matter and the concern of the school,” Detoyato said in a message on Monday.

Albayalde, for his part, said this incident only validates their belief that some students are being recruited by communist rebels to join them in toppling the government.

“This is what we have been saying before that we have recovered IDs of students during encounters with communist rebels. Some of them are 22, 23 years old who were supposed to be in school but became casualties of this on-going war against rebellion,” Albayalde said.

The PNP chief also advised parents of other students who have the same experience to surface and talk to the police.

Rizza Divine’s father, Roland, initially went out to look for her and asked for help from the public but retreated his call saying his daughter is already home and later asked The Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST, to take down the story.

On Jan. 19, Luisa, the mother, refuted Roland’s statement clarifying that their daughter is not yet back with them.

Last Wednesday, Luisa shared that she would sometimes exchange messages with Rizza Divine but is not sure whether it is really her daughter she is talking to.

“Boses n’ya yung kausap ko, kaya lang may tumatawa (sa background). Tatlong babae naririnig ko. Kapag may itatanong ako sa kanya, may sumasagot ng isasagot niya (I recognize her voice but I can hear other people in the background laughing. There were three girls. Every time I ask her something, someone else teaches her what to tell me),” the mother explained.

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) earlier confirmed Rizza Divine’s participation in the immersion.

Immersions or integration programs, the LFS said in a statement, were part of the student organization’s orientation.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir said his office did not approve nor receive an application for any off-campus community development project in relation to Rizza Divine’s immersion.

“Every off-campus community development or community immersion activity undergoes through proper protocol…anything contrary to this is not supported, not promoted, not approved. [If there] is no faculty supervision, [the activity will] not be allowed to push through,” Abenir said, as quoted in The Varsitarian report. (PNA/Christine Cudis)