MANILA, Philippines – All clad in white shirts, key leaders of the Liberal Party (LP) gathered at the University of the Philippines Diliman, to hear a "Mass for justice" on Thursday, September 21, the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.
Former president Benigno Aquino III, chairman emeritus of the LP, was joined by Vice President Leni Robredo, party chairperson. Also seen at the Mass were Senator Francis Pangilinan, party president, as well as House Deputy Speakers Miro Quimbo and Jose Christopher Belmonte. (READ: Remember, prevent return of 'dark times' under Martial Law – Robredo)
Both chambers of Congress were represented on Thursday, in a Mass with a homily that spoke of the horrors of Martial Law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
But this wasn't a Mass merely to remember and condemn the atrocities of the past. Surrounding the altar, alongside photos of Martial Law atrocities and victims, were pictures of young Filipinos whose deaths have been linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war. (READ: PH losing soul to 'Father of Lies' – Archbishop Villegas)
The LP, which is still undergoing "rebranding" more than a year into the Duterte administration, rarely gathers this prominently in public, particularly for an event that explicitly denounces the current administration. (READ: Liberal Party holds 1st official meeting post-2016 elections)
Speaking to media ahead of the Mass, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, an LP member who belongs to the minority bloc, said it was about time that Duterte introduce "reforms" in his policies, particularly the drug war.
Former LP president and defeated 2016 presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II, who rarely makes public comments on the Duterte administration, similarly condemned the deaths linked to the anti-drug campaign.
"Sa totoo lang dapat nga ipagtanggol natin ang mga namatay na ito," Roxas said. (We should come to the defense of those who were killed.) – Rappler.com