MALACANANG called the planned ‘Black Sunday’ basketball game between archrivals Ateneo and La Salle in UAAP Season 79 an exercise of democratic freedom in a statement released Saturday.
Officials of the two schools came out with a memorandum on Friday, calling on their students and school communities to wear black to the game in protest of the extrajudicial killings, Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and violations of human rights—all attributed to the Duterte administration.
“We understand there is call from Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University to wear black on Sunday’s UAAP men’s basketball game to protest the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and to condemn the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country,” Presidential Communications Office head Martin Andanar said in a statement.
“We live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to give an opinion, air his grievance, or voice his solidarity or disagreement with the government as long as the means used is peaceful, legal, and constitutional. As we learned in our class, ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,’” the statement added.
The Palace appeared undaunted by the protest game and called on both schools to help government efforts in improving the state of poor communities around the country.
“Feel free, therefore, to express your concern on the burning issues of the day in the same way that we encourage both Ateneo and La Salle communities to step up and bring the blessings of their quality education by helping the government transform the many communities of the poor in our society. The menace of illegal drugs has also swept away human rights and human lives, which are some values we are taught in school,” Andanar said.
Andanar also shared that the administration is encouraging everyone to join the anti-drugs campaign of the government, which enters the second phase including treatment, rehabilitation, education and counseling of drug dependents.
Earlier, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, president of the Atneo de Davao University said the battle against illegal drugs is a battle that has to be fought.
“We must be able to fight drugs by bringing about a condition where drugs are no longer necessary. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ also has to be applied to the millions that are being victimized by this illegal drug trade,” Tabora said.
Commissioner Charles Raymond Maxey of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) likewise asked the two schools to leave sports free of politics.
“Let the players and their supporters wear their true colors, be it blue or green. Politics must never be injected into sports. This is b-a-s-k-e-t-b-a-l-l,” Maxey told Spin.PH in an online message.