Enough is enough: CEACAL rallies behind slain Atenean student

By Mary Lorelie Potencio


In a show of force, the Catholic Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan (CEACAL) held a prayer rally for justice and peace on Thursday, November 10, 2022 at Cadlan, Pili, in condemnation of the brutal murder of AdNU SHS student Irish Mae Payonga, who was found dead at Cadlan, Pili, on October 31, 2022.


Several organizations and schools in attendance read statements decrying Payonga’s violent death and called for the end of violence against women.


Ms. Polly Ortega, president of the Daughter of Mary Immaculate International Incorporated, called on the students present to do their part in stopping gender-based discrimination online.


“For the students here, call out your classmates who engage in this kind of behavior whether in school or online. Imbes na mag ngirit o mag “haha” react, report posts you see that degrade or exploit women,” said Ortega.”


Ortega also highlighted that violence at home should not be tolerated.


“Violence is never okay. An problema sa harong dai nareresolberan sa pagmumuda, sa pagkukurahaw, o sa pananapak,” she added.


Marinel Delatado, AdNU SHS student and one of Payonga’s classmates, delivered a speech lamenting her late classmate’s life dream of becoming a lawyer.


“Atty. Irish Mae Payonga, where ever you are right now. I know that you are listening. So please, know this: You may no longer fulfill your dream, but trust that we will fulfill it for you. Or at the very least, I will,” said Delatado.


The gathering was also headlined by a mass officiated by Archbishop of Caceres Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, ODD.


During his homily, Archbishop Tria Tirona told the attendees that their presence symbolizes the unity of the entire faith community.


“Dai lang kamo nagrerepresentar kan saindong eskwelahan, saindong paaralan, kundi pinepresentar nindo an buong simbahan, an buong faith community, ano man an paniwala mo,” said the Archbishop.


CEACAL president Fr. Wilmer Tria reiterated the Association’s statement condemning Payonga’s untimely demise, and called for stronger safeguards to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again.


According to the statement, “As one association in the province of Camarines Sur, we call upon the provincial government and all the cities and municipalities in Camarines Sur, especially the municipality of Pili, to ensure that the streets and public transports are safe for all people, including our students, faculty, and staff, [and] with urgency, pass policies and ordinances that will regulate public transports and implement measures that will guarantee the safety and security of every citizen.”


A procession to the site where the victim’s body was found soon followed, with attendees placing lit candles that spell out “Justice for Irish.”


A suspect in the killing of the Atenean teen has been in custody of the Camarines Sur Police since November 1, and is facing charges of rape with homicide and robbery.


(Mary Lorelie Potencio is editor-in-chief of KuritBulawan, official student publication of Ateneo de Naga University Senior High School.)