[UPDATED February 11, 2014]
By CHARITY RULLODA & ELISHA PADILLA
“This is for all the brothers, fathers, sons, husbands, and friends we lost that day. This is for us who are here to continue to seek justice, not only for the 44, but also for having fallen as victims to [President Benigno S. Aquino III’s] crime of incompetence.”
Thus said USC Chairperson Allen Lemence in an ecumenical service held on Friday, February 6, at the Oblation Grounds for the 44 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) died in a botched encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighers (BIFF) at Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.
The students held the event a week after an indignation rally, where they blasted President Aquino for failing to be present at the arrival honors of the fallen men. Showing their sympathy and desire for truth and justice, they called the event Mga Dalit at Taghoy ng Kapayapaan at Katarungan.
Representatives from various organizations offered eulogies and solidarity messages for the SAF troopers. They have also expressed disappointment over the said inadequate response of the administration to the encounter, calling for Aquino to step down from his position. This is in addition to their long-time assertion that Aquino serves the interests of US instead of the Filipino people’s.
“Manipestasyon din ng nangyaring massacre na si Pangulong Aquino ay tuta ng isang dayuhang bansa dahil siya ay sunud-sunuran ng kanyang dayuhang amo, dahil ang nangyaring massacre, buhat siya ng US-led na war on terror,” said Papat Catriz, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students-UPLB.
She also challenged fellow UP students as they were invited to take a greater part in playing the roles of “Iskolar ng bayan para sa bayan.”
The students offered a song and lighted candles at the foot of the Oblation as they ended the ecumenical service.
The event was headed by the UPLB University Student Council (USC), League of Filipino Students (LFS-UPLB), and Kabataan Partylist-UPLB. Also present were Umalohokan, Inc., UPLB Writers’ Club, UPLB Sophia Circle, UPLB Biological Society, Kabataan Partylist, and National Union of Students of the Philippines, among others. [P]