EJK victims’ kin to hold candle lighting
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — Families of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) under the Duterte administration will troop to police stations nationwide as early as Wednesday in remembrance of their slain relatives.
Quest for justice
Activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes said on Monday that the families were doing this as part of their continuous quest for justice.
“Why not also light candles and place these at police stations with a prayer and appeal for justice for their helpless loved ones, most of them brutally killed?” Reyes said in a phone interview.
He said they had been organizing the activity with partners across the country.
But Reyes clarified that the protest move does not aim to malign and disrespect the entire Philippine National Police as an institution.
“The solidarity of policemen in the quest for justice of EJK victims will be a chance for the PNP to redeem their tarnished public reputation,” said Reyes, also known as the “running priest” for initiating running events to raise public awareness on social and political issues.
He said the solidarity of the policemen through their own candle-lighting activities and prayers would demonstrate that men in uniform still “uphold life, respect human rights and observe the rule of law.”
He described the unconventional protest move dubbed “Bulong ng mga Kaluluwa (Biktima ng EJK): Kalinga at Hustisya” as “relevant and powerful action especially now that the hypocrisy of the PNP leadership has been unmasked.”
Reyes was apparently referring to the former PNP chief, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, who is facing criminal investigation along with 13 of his former officers in Pampanga province who have been accused of letting a drug lord escape allegedly in exchange for P55 million and selling a large amount of seized “shabu” (crystal meth) six years ago.
“The families of EJK victims have almost lost trust in the justice system and the police whom instead of protecting them have pursued their loved ones like prey in hunting games,” Reyes said.
The Commission of Human Rights defines EJK as alleged killings by state security forces as well as by any other groups or individuals, which the government fails to investigate, prosecute and punish when it is in a position to do so.
Reyes said he would lead the protest move at Chino Roces bridge in Mendiola.
“I will be with 30 masked individuals representing the restless souls of more than 30,000 EJK victims nationwide,” Reyes said.
He will be joined by the families of EJK victims in Metro Manila.
According to government data, the drug war has claimed at least 5,500 lives nationwide since President Duterte took office in 2016.
Human rights groups, however, said the death toll was between 25,000 to 30,000—figures that mirrored the results of the President’s warning that it would be his bloody and unrelenting campaign against the menace of illegal drugs in the country.
Most of the killings were carried out by police in drug war operations.
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