Press Release
February 22, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president to stop the spate of extra-judicial killings and disappearances of student activists that are reminiscent of similar gruesome crimes that took place during the Marcos dictatorial rule.

Pimentel said the murdered youth leaders did not deserve the cruel fate that befell them since they committed no criminal offense but played the patriotic role of fighting social injustices and suppression of peoples rights.

Out of conviction and idealism, these student activists took the challenge of spearheading the protest movement inside and outside school campuses in the face of misrule and abuses by people in power, rampant graft and corruption and other venalities in society, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

To pursue their noble objective, they made a lot of sacrifices to the point of missing school classes. They were undaunted by the risks to their personal safety. It is unfortunate that they lost their lives and we strongly condemn these summary executions. We are outraged and saddened by these tragedies.

The latest student activists to be killed by death squads let loose by sinister forces was Farly Alcantara II, a 22-year old graduating student of the Camarines Norte State College in Daet. Alcantara, who was spokesperson of the League of Students in Camarines Norte, was gunned down by a lone assassin while he was on his way home from school.

In March, 2006, Cris Hugo, regional coordinator of the LFS in Bicol region and a student of the Bicol University, was killed under similar circumstances.

In July, 2006, Reynon Guran, a student of the Aquinas University in Legazpi City, and spokesman of LFS in Albay, was shot dead inside a bus.

In June 2006, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, both students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, were abducted by masked armed men from the house they were staying in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

Witnesses pointed to the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, then chief of the Armys 7th Infantry Division as responsible for snatching away Empeno, a sociology student and a member of LFS, and Cadapan, a student of human kinetics and former member of UP student council. Up to this day, the two UP students have not been found and their parents feared they had been killed.

Pimentel noted that many of the victims of extra-judicial killings from the ranks of the studentry belong to moderate progressive youth organizations, and therefore had no links whatsoever with the underground communist movement.

We suspect that these student activists were targeted for liquidation by their perpetrators to silence political dissent in school campuses and to scare away the studentry from joining street rallies and other protest actions organized by the youth organizations, to draw public attention to the sad state of affairs in country, he said.

He urged the Commission on Human Rights and Commission on Higher Education to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the series of slayings of student leaders, in order to unmask the killers and their masterminds and to render justice to the victims.

Likewise, he called on the countrys studentry to voice out their collective denunciation of the spate of extra-judicial killings of youth activists, and not to be cowed into silence and passivity by forces that are out to undermine and destroy democracy and freedoms in the country.

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