THOUSANDS of students from various schools and universities in Metro Manila marched out of their classes Friday to call for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III.
“We did not go on heightened alert. Rallies like that are really normally held in Mendiola. We just monitored their actions to make sure there are no criminal elements who have blended in with the students,” Presidential Security Group head Commodore Raul Ubando said.
The students came from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Philippine Normal University, and other schools.
“Today, we march out of our classrooms to protest against a shameful presidency that even has the gall to talk about peace, even as it orchestrates a massive cover-up to escape accountability from the Mamasapano operation,” UP Youth Act Now spokesman Mico Pangalangan said in a statement.
“Aquino’s long list of atrocities compels the Filipino people to fight for change and intensify the clamor for his resignation. Soon, millions of Filipinos will take the streets and write another page in history by ousting Aquino,” said League of Filipino Students chairperson Charisse Bañez.
The Palace appealed for sobriety as calls for Aquino’s resignation mounted.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also reiterated the government’s warning against those who are pushing for a change in leadership that they should express their sentiments “within the bounds of the law.”
Various groups from the academe and even Church leaders have added their voices to quit calls led by the National Transformation Council following the botched operation in Mamasapano on Jan. 25 that left 44 police commandos dead.
Business groups, however, have not supported moves to unseat the President even as they threw support to efforts to seek justice and accountability for the death of the Special Action Force troopers.
“It’s nice to see or at least pleasant to hear that support is also likewise voiced for the President. It shows you that there is a vibrant discussion among our communities and stakeholders on this particular matter. But we do echo the call for sobriety and that while we recognize that emotions remain high, we must stay the course for peace no matter how difficult,” Valte said.
“That it is part of the democratic space that you have contrary opinions and they make those opinions known. But as mentioned by the Secretary of Justice, you have to do that within the bounds of law, and that there are certain things while expressing your opinion that you cannot do in particular,” Valte added.
The NTC is pushing for a transition government to be led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and advised by a council that will include Catholic Church leaders.
Sereno, however, has already rejected the offer for her to lead a transition government.
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