La Salle president: 'Diyos ko, bakit 'nyo kami pinabayaan?'

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story listed Luistro as the president of De La Salle University. Luistro is the president of De La Salle Philippines. The story has been adjusted to reflect this.)

MANILA, Philippines – "Diyos ko, Diyos ko, bakit 'nyo kami pinabayaan  (My God, my God, why have you forsaken us)?"

De La Salle Philippines president Brother Armin Luistro led an opening prayer before the press briefing of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday, September 18. Luistro was with members of Tindig Pilipinas, an opposition coalition.

With his prayer, lifting from Jesus' 7 last words, Luistro asked why God allowed a worsening culture of impunity under the Duterte administration.

"Diyos ko, Diyos bakit 'nyo kami pinabayaan? Sa aming pinagdadaanan, kami’y nagmimistulang buang. Dalawampu’t libong higit pa ang pinaslang at tinokhang. Ni walang naglalamay, dagdag lang sila sa bilang, tinuturing na mga salot at mga walang pakinabang," he said.

(My God, my God, why have you forsaken us? With what we've been going through, we've nearly lost our minds. More than 20,000 have been killed and summarily executed. No one's holding a wake, they were just added to the numbers, regarded as pests and useless.)

Luistro, who served as education secretary during the administration of Benigno Aquino III, also questioned why Filipinos have to suffer the rising price of rice, and the threat of being arrested if law enforcers mistake you for being a loiterer.

"Sa mga kumakayod, bagong pahirap ang dinaranas. Kulang ang kabuhayan, nagmamahal pa ang bigas. Saan magpapahinga? Pati eskinita may banta, upang hindi madapuan ng pinaghihinalaang tambay," he added.

(Those who work hard are experiencing a new kind of suffering. One's earnings are not enough but rice prices are going up. Where will they rest? Even in alleys there are threats, just so they would not be regarded as loiterers.)

Luistro asked God in prayer: "Is this our fate? Are you sleeping or turning a deaf ear?"

Fight tyranny

Luistro also asked why it seemed that democracy and free speech in the country were dying. He cited as proof the persecution of opposition Senator Leila de Lima and of Trillanes.

"Kinikitil ang kalayaan nitong lupang hinirang at mga propeta ay iilan na lamang. Si Senadora De Lima, pinagbintangan, niyurakan. Si Senador Trillanes naman ngayon ang pinagbabantaan," Luistro said.

(Freedom is being killed in our nation and there are only few prophets. Senator De Lima was hurled with allegations and was trampled upon. Now, Senator Trillanes is being threatened.)

The former education chief also questioned whether it was God's will to stop the truth from coming out.

"Bawal nang bumatikos sa makapangyarihan. Kami raw ay salot at mga dilawan. Dadalawa nga ba ang kulay ng Filipino? Ipinagbabawal na nga ba ang pagsasabi ng totoo?" Luistro said,

(It's prohibited to be critical of those in power. We are called pests and yellows. Do Filipinos only have two colors? Are we no longer allowed to tell the truth?)

Luistro ended his prayer by calling on the public to fight tyranny, saying that the Lord provides.

"Labanan natin ang paniniil, pagmumura, at pandaraya. Tindig Pilipinas. Ang Diyos mo’y di nagpapabaya. Siya nawa," he said.

(Let's fight against tyranny, cursing, and cheating. Rise up, Philippines. Your God will not abandon you. Amen.) –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.