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Family, friends call for justice as Atio laid to rest

Family and friends bid their goodbyes as Horacio Castillo III was laid to at the Manila Memorial Park rest yesterday afternoon.

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Family, friends and colleagues pay their final respects to fatal hazing victim and Faculty of Civil Law freshman student Horacio Castillo III as they lay his body to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City. Photo by Darryl Lance Limpin/TomasinoWeb.

Wearing black and white shirts, family and friends bid their goodbyes as slain law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City, yesterday afternoon, Sept. 27.

The 22-year-old freshman student of the Faculty of Civil Law died of heart attack due to the hazing rites performed by some of the members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

“If I have to fight, with the help of the people of the Philippines, I will get justice for Atio,” said Gerardo Castillo, Atio’s uncle, during his last message on the funeral.

He added, “You’ve lost a great boy. You’ve lost a great member, a great neophyte. This is the end of your fraternity, believe me. I don’t know if a neophyte will ever join your [organization].”

Castillo’s father, Horacio Jr., also expressed his regret on the lost of his son during his eulogy.

“He was a good son, the perfect son, the best son that any family could ever have,” he said. “Atio, we will miss you, but you can now go into the light,” Horacio Jr. added.

The father also lambasted the fraternity “brothers” involved in the death of his son.

“[The] so-called fraternity brothers robbed him of his dreams and his aspirations,” Horacio Jr. told as he recalled his memories and the life of his son.

Former UST Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., who presided the mass, urged the public to remain hopeful amid these grieving times.

“Hope is the message of this Catholic mass. […] Hold on. We can be strong again,” Cabading encouraged.

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Cabading also slammed the brutal murder of Horacio III in his homily.

“How many deaths should there be before we realize that there’s something wrong in a brotherhood that seeks to harm in order to bond?” Cabading stated.

Meanwhile, David Amor, Atio’s godfather and Horacio Jr.’s best friend, called for support through donation and raising awareness of Horacio III’s death after the mass.

The family and relatives started a fundraising campaign for Horacio III to “fight a very powerful law firm.” However, he didn’t mention the name of the law firm.

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Martial law victims slam Marcos day

Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

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Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Bantayog ng mga Bayani Executive Director Ma. Cristina Rodriguez said that it is “harmful to the country’s history” as it could generate misleading facts that can confuse younger generations. 

“Kapag hinayaan mo ang probinsya niya na i-honor parin siya, ang harm niyan hindi lang sa probinsya niya kung hindi sa buong bansa,” Rodriguez said. 

According to Rodriguez, the Marcoses should be held accountable for the youth to understand the atrocities during Martial Law. 

She stressed that Ilocos Norte should instead “be ashamed” as they “fully benefited” from Marcos, while Mindanao was bombed and Cagayan Valley and Samar’s forest were industrially logged. 

“Sa totoo lang ang dapat maging attitude ng mga taga-Ilocos Norte ay bumawi naman kayo. ‘Wag niyo nang igasgas sa sugat ang asin,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez also said that the national government should not acknowledge the bill to “hold a moral position” on the abuses inflicted by the Marcoses. 

“Yung mga nakinabang sa Martial Law at sa panahon ni Marcos gusto nila ‘yan. Dapat yung ating pagsusulat ng kasaysayan at pagtuturo ng kasaysayan ay tama,” Martial Law political prisoner Cris Palabay said. 

Palabay urged the youth not to forget the atrocities during the Martial Law. 

“Huwag po tayong matakot, lagi ko nga po sinasabi yung culture of fear, culture of silence, dapat yan ay labanan, tiyak yan, mas maraming magagandang mangyayari,” Palabay said. 

The webinar, “Francisco de Vitoria: Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao – Talakayang Batas Militar” was organized by UST SIMBAHAYAN Community Development Office to shed light on the abuse of human rights amid the pandemic. Cherizza Mae Bautista

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Filipino environmental advocates demand for ‘better normal’

Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

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Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

“As youth leaders, as young people, we have been active in different forms of advocacy work to forward our legitimate concerns on government policies, but particularly those related to environment and climate, and to those policies that will directly affect us,” said youth representative Jeff Estela during the online press conference.

Estela stressed the recent suppression of the freedom of speech, following the passage of the Anti-Terror Law.

Last July, youth environmental activist Greta Thunberg called to repeal the said law, citing that it equates environmental activism with terrorist activities.

“With the current move and actions of the government, this can be used to intensify the intimidation, fear-mongering, and the present attacks on the environmental defenders and advocates,” Estela said.

Environmental lawyer and activist Atty. Antonio La Viña emphasized the need of the youth to make strong demands, and to take direct action to appeal to the decision makers.

“I think the time now is to be really radical about the solutions,” he said.

La Viña highlighted the benefit of listening to indigenous people, as it will prevent further damage in nature such as the construction of Kaliwa Dam.

Yung climate change is not about carbon. It is not about emissions, ‘di ba? It’s not about markets. It’s on people,” he said. “Tao. Lalo na mahihirap.

Transition of renewable energy, according to La Viña, produces sustainable and cheap energy for everyone.

“Renewable energy is the future, the economics are there for it, and we just have to take very strong action to go to the transition very close to energy,” he said.

The online press conference, “National Youth Demands: Youth Declaration for Climate Justice,” with the theme “Para sa Klimabukasan,” was organized by Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines in solidarity with global movements inspired by Thunberg. Vhey Dela Cruz Tapia

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‘Democratic spaces shrink amid COVID-19 pandemic’—PhilRights exec

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo grabbed from the official Facebook page of UST Simbahayan

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Transparency and accountability are not government priorities. A culture of impunity continues to be perpetuated by the government,” PhilRights Executive Director Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan said. 

Simbulan, who is also the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of UP Manila, emphasized that passing the Anti-Terror Law of 2020 and lowering the age of criminal liability are “anti-people policies” propagated by the government’s legal apparatus. 

“Part of the efforts of the government to discourage protest actions, political actions intended to call the attention of the government to policies and programs that are anti-people is the framing of civic participation as a destabilizing force,” she said.

Duterte’s core principle of governance

Simbulan condemned the blatant red-tagging of democrative defenders and government critics that recently claimed the lives of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez, further highlighting the 2019 Global Peace Index which placed the Philippines as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific. 

She noted that the government playbook normalizes violence as there are efforts being undertaken by the administration to “make people accept violence” as part of their daily lives.

“President Duterte’s core principle of governance is violence, and even the international community has not failed to recognize this,” Simbulan said. 

However, Simbulan said that there are “glimmers of hope” in different forms of resistance such as continued mobilizations, documentations, and lobbying of petitions in Congress and Supreme Court. 

The webinar titled, “Francisco de Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao” was spearheaded by the UST – Simbahayan Community Development Program as a part of the annual human rights activities series every September.

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