Lasallians dispute sedition charges against Luistro, 35 others

Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC of De La Salle Philippines, leads the pamilyang Lasalyano, showing their support for Br. Armin, Atty. Chel and the 34 other opposition individuals. (A. Mojares)

Heavy rains did not hinder Lasallian protesters in their move to support the 36 accused critics of the Duterte administration, including De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) President Br. Armin Luistro FSC, during the preliminary investigation of the sedition charges stemming from the viral “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos linking the Duterte family to drug trade at the Department of Justice (DOJ) office in Padre Faura St., Manila, Aug. 9.

Charges were also filed against Vice President Leni Robredo and the former senatorial candidate and dean of De La Salle University (DLSU), College of Law, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno among others.

The Lasallian schools in attendance during the rally were De La Salle Araneta University, La Salle Green Hills, De La Salle University and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. Br. Marvin Sipin FSC, Head of Vocation Ministry Office, represented De La Salle Lipa.

The Lasallian support

“Nakikiisa po ang buong pamilyang Lasalyano sa lahat ng naririto ngayong umaga upang pumanig sa katotohanan at [sa] mga nagtatanggol nito. Walang bagyo ang makapipigil, walang malakas na ulan ang makahihinto sa ating paninindigan,” Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC, Formation Staff from the House of Studies of De La Salle Brothers, said on stage as he spoke for the DLSP.

Esmeli also called out for the DOJ and Philippine National Police and emphasized that there could be a solution instead of imposing sedition charges against the opposition individuals.

In the official statement posted by the DLSP Facebook page on Aug. 2, the presidents of the Lasallian schools signed and agreed that Luistro and Diokno, both Lasallians, were only fighting for human life, dignity and liberty and that doing such does not mean sedition.

“We’re here to tell the DOJ to drop the charges because there is no sedition when one speaks the truth about how the government is being run. I think we have our right to that,” Eugene Young, from the Lasallian Mission Office of La Salle Green Hills, said.

“We pay our taxes, we work, that’s how we give our hand in building this country, so I think we have a say if we feel that there is something wrong with the present administration. That’s democracy, and we’re here to stand for that,” Young added.

Lasallians from different campuses show their support for Br. Armin and Atty. Chel. (A. Mojares)

“We’re here to support Br. Armin, Chel Diokno and the priests who have an arrest order for sedition. I think we are well-represented. […] I think we have to continue this. ‘Wag po tayo mapagod to show support and make sure that our voice is heard,” Young said.

According to Young, the priests charged with sedition include Father Flaviano Villanueva, Father Albert Alejo, Father Robert Reyes, Bishops Honesto Ongtioco, Teodoro Bacani Jr, Pablo Virgilio David and Socrates Villegas. 

“I feel naman na sobrang ganda na pinatawag ng De La Salle Philippines ‘yung solidarity event na ito which aims to, of course, tulungan nating palakasin ‘yung campaign na i-drop ang charges laban sa ating DLSP president, si Br. Armin, at si DLSU College of Law Dean, si Atty. Chel Diokno,” Deo Cabrera, senior high school student from DLSU, shared in an interview.

According to Arvin Isidro, student from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, they are forming an alliance called One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy (OLFHRD).

Isidro shared that OLFHRD aims to encourage Lasallians in the country to speak up against the oppression of human rights and democracy. It also aims to voice out the stand of Lasallian schools on pressing national issues.

“May isa kaming placard na ang nakalagay ay ‘Stop criminalizing dissent’ na kung saan [ay] makikita nating everyone in this regime na lumalaban and everyone who speaks up ay pinapatahimik,” Cabrera said.

“Ang hamon sa ating mga kabataan ay magkaisa, at bilang mga Lasallians, for God and country. Ating ine-embody ang Lasallian mission and vision [at] ang core values,” Isidro added.

The groups present during the rally were Akbayan Youth, Tindig Pilipinas, Mamamayang Liberal, People’s Choice Movement, Solid Leni, Every Woman, YouthResist and others.

Other participating groups voice out their views to drop the charges. (A. Mojares)

The protest was led by former Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman.

Meanwhile, the preliminary hearing on sedition charges resulted in the suspension of filing of counter-affidavits due to the pending motions questioning the Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s  (PNP-CIDG) attempt to present more evidence in the sedition case.

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