MANILA, Philippines - The president of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) defended his decision to cancel classes in the university Monday afternoon after receiving phone calls and text messages from parents of students asking about radiation fallout from Japan allegedly reaching the country.
Speaking to ANC, PUP President Dr. Dante Guevarra said he decided to cancel classes to prevent panic from spreading throughout the campus.
"Basically, we are skeptical about this news. However, parents have been calling us and even guardians and trying to appeal to us to send their children home so we have decided to suspend the classes," he said.
"PUP is very adjacent to the oil depot in Pandacan. Once in a while, there is some foul smell coming from this oil depot in Pandacan. Kung mapasabay ito, itong foul smell e baka lalong magpanic ang mga estudyante namin. Mas malaking problema yun, magtatakbuhan sila. We opted and we have decided to suspend the classes," he added.
Asked if there was a foul smell coming the depot, he said: "There is a possibility that it might coincide. What we did to avoid panic and stop these calls from the parents is pinauwi na namin yung mga bata."
Guevarra said he decided to err on the side of caution and canceled classes without first verifying if the text messages were true. He added that he is ready to defend his actions.
"It is safer to send them home rather than have people panicking," he said.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Monday debunked text rumors that radiation from a nuclear plant in Japan has reached the Philippines.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI)'s routine daily radiation monitoring in the environment showed the level of radiation in the environment in the country has remained stable since the Fukushima incident in Japan.
"The advice that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors did not come from DOST or any agency member of the National Disaster Coordinating Council," the DOST said in a statement.
"DOST emphasizes that there is no immediate danger of nuclear radiation in the Philippines," it added.
Sen. Loren Legarda on Monday called on people to stop spreading rumors of the radiation leak in Japan reaching the Philippines.
"Sa panahon ngayon ng sakuna at trahedya at sa panahon ng krisis sa ibang bansa … hindi siguro dapat magpasimula ng mga maling impormasyon. Ito'y hindi nakakatulong," she said.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also denounced those creators of text messages spreading rumors of alleged radiation contamination in the country.
“Hindi po ito nakakatulong. Wala pong lugar yung mga ganitong actuations sa ganitong sitwasyon which is already sensitive,” Valte said.