MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of Filipino students from a Roman Catholic-run school for girls joined Friday a global campaign to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria, chanting “bring them back” and urging motorists in the Philippine capital to honk their car horns in solidarity.
About 4,000 grade school to college students and nuns of St. Scholastica’s College spilled out of their campus to line up a busy street in Manila, many of them carrying placards that read “Bring Back Our Girls” and thumping their fists in the air as they chanted. They gave commuters a statement calling for the release of the girls and affirming their belief that girls deserve to be educated.
Extremists from Boko Haram — which means “Western education is sinful” — first abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria in April. Witnesses said they took 91 more people, including toddlers as young as 3, in attacks on villages in that African country earlier this month, providing fresh evidence of the military’s failure to curb an Islamic uprising and the government’s inability to provide security.
The most recent victims included 60 girls and women, some of whom were married, and 31 boys, witnesses said.
Celine Saplala, a nun and official of the school, said the rally was meant to appeal to the abductors and to people all over the world to free the girls and respect “their right just like anybody else to pursue their dream for an education.”
“Please bring back our girls,” said senior college student Roelle Charmaine Bito. “We have the right to be educated, each and every one of us.”