Foreign students to transfer to new dorm amid mauling

Posted on September 13, 2012

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AT least 29 Papua New Guinea nationals will transfer to a new dormitory following Sunday’s violent arrest of one of their own in barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

“They’re happy to know of their new dormitory.” said Adonis Wagas, director of the Students Affairs Office (SAO) of the University of Southern Philippines (USP). The three-storey structure is in the school compound.

Wagas said the dormitory has a curfew to prevent them from staying late outside.

He said he asked two Papua New Guinea students what they felt about the mauling of student Benedict Peniai.

“They said that they are afraid to roam around (in Cebu). They don’t feel safe,” Wagas said.

He said he hasn’t received any reports about foreign students leaving school over the incident.

“So far none, they will continue their studies here in the university,” he said.

Wagas said an “agent” handles the 29 Papua New Guinea students in their school. If they violate the law, they risk being “deported”.

Peniai was unable to return to school after his arrest by police for unruly behavior last Sunday, Wagas said.

Papua New Guinea natives account for the biggest number of USP’s 48 foreign students.

Other foreign nationals there studying different courses are Sudanese, Yemen, Korean, Kenyan, including an Indonesian, one Eritrean, a Norwegian and an Indian.

Wagas said USP started accepting foreign students in 2010.

He said it was the first time that a foreign student in their school was involved in an altercation with policemen.

Wagas said that what happened to Peniai was an “isolated” case.

“It (heavy drinking) is their (Papua New Guineans) culture,” Wagas said. He said Peniai’s classmates describe him as a good person.

“He’s (Peniai) a very good person but they said that whenever he gets drunk, he runs amok,” Wagas said.

Wagas said they treat all students fairly and don’t give special treatment to foreign students.

The 29-year-old Peniai is taking up information technology in USP.

Peniai filed a complaint against officers of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) who mauled him before the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7).

Peniai’s Iranian friend Yasi Herbic, earlier said many of the 29 students from Papua New Guinea studying in Cebu have decided to leave after Sunday’s mauling incident.

Herbic who runs Paradise Education Consultancy agency in Cebu City, said she helped Peniai to study in Cebu.

She said Peniai’s father works as a government official in the parliamentary department of Papua New Guinea but declined to elaborate.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Central Visayas (DFA-7) said they are still verifying this.

Police said Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) members used reasonable force in subduing Peniai, who was drunk and caused a commotion after a drinking spree with countrymen ended in a brawl in barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

TV footage showed SWAT members kicking the student who was sprawled on the ground. One police officer hit Peniai with the butt of his armalite rifle. /Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Reporter

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