MANILA, Philippines – Rain poured nonstop over Metro Manila on Monday, August 21, but this did not stop sectoral groups from marching toward the People Power Monument along EDSA to protest the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
The rally held at the iconic monument coincided with the 34th death anniversary of democracy icon Benigno Aquino Jr, and was attended mostly by youth groups, human rights advocates, and Martial Law victims. Police estimated the crowd at more than 1,000.
Millennials Against Dictators spokesperson Karla Yu – among the organizers of the event – said the protest was an initiative of different youth groups who want to express their rage against Delos Santos’ killing. Last August 16, the Grade 11 student was shot dead by police, who claimed he fought back. CCTV footage showed otherwise.
“Kapwa po namin kabataan si Kian. Ang lakas ng poot at galit nung nakita namin iyong footage na iyon (Kian was young just like us. When we saw the footage, we were so angry and furious.) … This is to appeal to each and everyone’s sense of humanity that at the end of the day, nilalapastangan ang ating karapatang pantao (our human rights are being violated).”
Yu said the rally does not lean toward a particular political party as they encouraged participants to indicate their organizations in the placards they raised.
Teddy Casiño, former representative of the leftist Bayan Muna, gave a brief speech with Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) convenor Boni Ilagan. Carmma is also aligned with Bayan Muna.
Former Bayan Muna Rep Teddy Casiño and Carmma's Boni Ilagan joins the PPM protest vs Kian delos Santos' death. pic.twitter.com/h4gQTkoMVH— Patty Pasion (@pattypasion) August 21, 2017
“We have to show our people that we have to take a stand, we have to speak out [about] what is wrong about this war on drugs. In this gathering, we can show that we can be united when it comes to human rights,” Casiño told Rappler in an interview.
“We have to break the silence, break the impression that the public is okay with the killings,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.
Left-leaning organizations also staged a simultaneous event denouncing the killings in Caloocan City where Delos Santos lived.
Political figures identified with the Liberal Party (LP) such as party president and senator Francis Pangilinan, former social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, and former Akbayan representative Barry Gutierrez also came but did not deliver speeches.
LOOK: Senator Kiko Pangilinan here at the PPM rally. pic.twitter.com/iwbB86kQek— Patty Pasion (@pattypasion) August 21, 2017
Singer Jim Paredes and actress Agot Isidro, known for their critical stance against the Duterte administration, were also spotted at the event.
Organizations that supported the protests against the hero’s burial for the late president Ferdinand Marcos also attended the event. These included millennial groups iDefend and Block Marcos, as well as activists during the Martial Law period.
Block Marcos spokesperson Kat Leuch addressed claims that Delos Santos is not “as innocent” as he seemed and that he supposedly acted as a drug courier for his family. She said that whether or not Delos Santos is innocent, due process must be accorded everyone.
“Itong victim blaming, nakakasuya na (This victim-blaming is tiring already)…. Due process is being experienced by Duterte’s own son who is involved in the 600-kilo [shabu] shipment… A person should not be deprived of due process,” she said.
Leuch was referring to presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte’s alleged involvement in the smuggling of shabu after being tagged by Bureau of Customs broker Mark Taguba. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier promised to step down if evidence is presented that his son is corrupt.
Meanwhile, 78-year-old Franciscan sister Teresita Alo, who was also active in the anti-Marcos movement, called on the government to stop the killings.
“As a religious, I cannot close my eyes with all the killings going on in our country, especially the innocent, the poor, they are always the victims… In more than a year, they have killed 13,000. These are the documented. What about the undocumented? Maybe it’s more than 20,000. It’s even more than [those killed under] Martial Law,” she said.
‘May exam pa ako’
Placards were not as colorful as those used during the Marcos burial protests last year. But one placard that stood out was the one made by 30-year-old artist KR Raposas, which featured Delos Santos’ famous last words.
“Gusto ko maramdaman ng maraming tao na (I want people to feel that) Kian could be your brother, Kian could be your nephew, or basically Kian could be you and me,” he said.
Artists KR Raposas brings his piece featuring Kian's last words that has gone viral. pic.twitter.com/9DsOzJbbYr— Patty Pasion (@pattypasion) August 21, 2017
“Gabi-gabi ako nahihirapan matulog kakaisip na pinapatay nila sa mga oras na may pagkakataon pa akong matulog nang mahimbing (I find it hard to sleep each night, thinking that they are killing people during the time when I still have the chance to sleep soundly)… I want people to be enraged. This has to stop. The killings have to stop,” he added.
Another protester, Frank Manuel of the Filipino Freethinkers, brought what looked like a roulette that includes the reasons cited by supporters of the President when defending him online. Manuel said he wanted to show their “nonsense” on social media.
“When you ask them a question, they are just going to interchange among these responses… Paulit-ulit lang ang sinasabi nila (They are only repeating the things they are saying)… A lot of them are really quiet because they know the administration is wrong,” he said. – Rappler.com