August 16, 2017

Students light candles for the victims of killings in the Philippines

Students from different universities in Metro Manila held simultaneous candle-lighting protests Thursday, August 11, to demand justice for the victims of summary executions and extrajudicial killings in the country.

“We light these candles as expression of the youth’s strongest condemnation against all the killings experienced by the Filipino people. This is not just for the victims of drug-related killings, but also to denounce the persistent killings of our Lumad brothers and sisters,” Kevin Castro, National Union of Students of the Phiippines (NUSP) spokesperson said.

As of writing, 943 people were victims of vigilante killings related to drugs, including among them is Jefferson Bunuan, a student of Eulogio ‘Amang’ Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST). In Mindanao, Lumad were still being killed by state armies and paramilitaries. Recently, a pregnant woman was killed in Bukidnon. In Agusan del Sur, 48 Lumad families were forced to evacuate due to extensive militarization in their area.

“Such atrocities have to end. President Duterte promised to have the Lumad return home after years of displacement from their ancestral land. The President needs to keep his word and immediately executes orders to pull out all military forces from their lands. Regarding the war-on-drugs campaign of the administration, we are urging the state to uphold due process with their drug-related operations. Vigilante killings will not stop the drug problems of the country. It just upholds the worsening culture of impunity in the country,” Castro said.

The National Union believes that problems regarding drugs must be resolved, however, it is only through addressing the actual roots of poverty can this dilemma be addressed.

Students from UP Diliman, UP Manila, University of Santo Tomas (UST), and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) simultaneously light candles to condemn the aggravating killings of accused drug pushers and users and of Lumad. The NUSP also stated that what is happening right now is no different from what have been experienced by the Filipinos during the Martial Law.

“Martial Law is once again facing us with all of these killings. The Filipino people have to unite to put an end to these killings, both in the city and in the countryside,” Castro ended.

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