MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday, April 6, made the case for the need to support the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs following the death of two female students in Siquijor early this week.
In a statement sent to reporters on Thursday, Briones – former chairperson of the Silliman University (SU) Board of Trustees – decried the "senseless and violent murder" of 17-year-old Loreen Ramirez and 21-year-old Jan Nicole "Nikki" Piñero in Siquijor last Sunday, April 2.
Briones recounted the incident in her statement, saying the two went to Siquijor to support their boyfriends who were participants of an international longboard competition.
Ramirez's boyfriend is a foreign exchange student at SU, while Piñero – a 4th year Education student – was the only daughter of SU professor Dionesio Piñero.
"The suspect, Michael Añabesa Manayon, was also a participant of the same contest and a known user of illegal substances," the education secretary said.
"Originally targeting Loreen's boyfriend, Manayon repeatedly stabbed her instead. He eventually stabbed Nikki, who merely rushed to help her friend, on the jugular vein and slaughtered her like a pig – all during a fit of delusion and rage triggered by his drug-addled mind."
Briones then went on to say that much attention has been given to the human rights of drug users, drug pushers, and drug financiers, but "not much focus was given to the victims and their families whose lives were destroyed as a result of the careless, mindless, and selfish choices of these addicts."
"We call on communities, universities, church institutions, societies, and all organizations involved in the anti-illegal drugs campaign to join hands for the sake of all innocent victims. Heinous and horrific crimes such as this do not have a place in a country that seeks to protect and promote the welfare of its people, much more preserve the lives of the innocent," Briones said in her statement.
The DepEd, Briones said, is strengthening its National Drug Education Program to create "age-appropriate awareness" among students as young as 9 years old. (READ: Briones: Schools must teach 'real life stories' on dangers of drugs)
"This is DepEd's continuous commitment to prevent drug use and abuse among learners and to curb the many drug-related incidents in the country," she said.
On Tuesday, April 4, SU President Ben Malayang III said the incident "happened away from Silliman, but saddens us all in Silliman."
"It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of anyone, especially those brimming with opportunities to lead wonderful and productive lives ahead of them. For those who knew Nikki and Loreen, we ask that you remember and celebrate their lives," he said in a message posted on the SU website.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Issue Date: 4 April 2017 pic.twitter.com/JRYccMSfnz — Silliman University (@silliman_u) April 4, 2017
"May both Nikki and Loreen rest in peace and let justice prevail," he added.
Amid the crackdown on drugs, there were 53,025 drug personalities arrested in the country from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs')
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.