Zamboanga students told: “Watch, Pray, and Engage”

Moreno is also the president of the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi Association of Private Schools (ZAMBASULTAPS).

At least a thousand students from about 10 schools and universities and members of interfaith groups in this city joined Davao, General Santos and the rest of the country today in expressing their disgust over the massive scale of corruption in the national government and the alleged participation of the President and the First Gentleman in the anomalous ZTE National Broadband Network deal.

Interfaith groups such as the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, Peace Advocates of Zamboanga, and Movement for A Better Zamboanga participated in the assembly. Together with the students, they called for a peaceful action in upholding the truth, accountability and reform in the midst of political turmoil the nation is now facing.

During the assembly, Fr. Moreno read the statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, stressing that the “way to truth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the present time when questions about the moral ascendancy of the present government are being raised.”

“We add our collective voice to the many who call for an end to corruption, falsehood and dishonesty,” stated Prof. Alih Yacub of the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace.

“This is now leading us to a crisis point that is prompting us to even question the integrity of the highest official of the land,” he added, referring to the alleged participation of the President  in the ZTE-NBN deal.

The National Broadband Network project is the botched multi-million telecommunication project of the national government with the Chinese firm ZTE Corporation.
“We don’t believe in changing the leadership, what we need is to institute reforms and have a new form of government with just leaders,” expressed Italian priest Fr. Sebastian Guillan of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement. Silsilah is a Muslim and Christian dialogue movement.

“I don’t want the President to resign, I want due process on the ZTE-NBN investigation,” said college student Mary Rose Andrada.

“Issues like this should be taken down to terms that students like me can understand, so that we can make our own stand on the issues,” she added. Andrada is the editor in chief of ADZU’s school paper Beacon.

“It’s too early to make a stand on the issue, since the investigation is not yet done. But it’s important for me and my peers to be fully aware of issues like this,” expressed college student Henry Segovia. Segovia shared that students can be actively involved through blogging and sending text messages about the issues.

“Our course of action should not be driven by impulse or rage, but through careful and peaceful engagement,” said Fr. Moreno.

The assembly ended with a symbolic lighting of candles and singing of the “Bayan Ko” song along the street of La Purisima in front of the ADZU campus. (Angel Tiamson-Saceda/MindaNews)