Kin of EJK victims ‘haunt’ Duterte, police on eve of Halloween
MANILA, Philippines — Some families of victims of extrajudicial killings under the government’s war on drugs “haunted” President Rodrigo Duterte and the police on Wednesday, on the eve of Halloween and two days before “Undas.”
Undas is a Filipino term for the commemoration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, respectively.
“Magkaroon sila ng konsensya sa tulad naming mahihirap. Magkaron naman sila ng damdamin. Porke mahirap kami tinatanggalan kami ng karapatang mabuhay, na maging kumpleto ang pamilya,” Arlene Bitas said, whose 34-year old husband Sherwin was killed by the police in an alleged anti-drug operation in Oct. 11, 2017.
[May they have a conscience and have some feeling for poor people like us. Just because we are poor they took away our right to live, to keep our families intact.]
Bitas was part of the group of families of drug war victims who trooped to Mendiola near Malacañang in Manila to call for justice for their slain loved ones.
“They killed him like an animal,” Elizabeth Campo said of his husband, Roland, who was killed in what the police described as a legitimate drug operation on Oct. 11, 2017, in Barangay 19 in Manila’s impoverished Tondo district.
Wearing a white mask, Elizabeth joined more than a dozen kin of victims of extrajudicial killings under the government’s war on drugs and called for justice and rehabilitation and “not persecution.”
Activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes led the event called “Bulong ng mga Kaluluwa (Biktima ng EJK): Kalinga at Hustisya.”
The families lighted candles after a Mass at the Mendiola Peace Arch.
“Dapat patayin ninyo ‘yong tunay na kriminal. Huwag ninyo patayin ‘yong mahihirap lang. Pinapapatay niyo lang mahihirap. Ano po ba makukuha niyo sa amin?” Bitas said.
[You should only kill real criminals. Don’t kill the poor. You’re only killing the poor. What do have to gain from us?]
Arlene questioned what happened to the President’s promise to eliminate illegal drugs during the first six months of his administration.
“Sabi niyan anim na buwan lang wala nang droga. Ilang taon na po ba? Bakit sobrang daming namamatay? Lalong dumadami pa ‘yung droga. Di naman nakukuha sa pagpatay po yan,” she said. “Yun lang kaya nila, ang mahihirap, kasi walang magagawa ang mahihirap.”
[He said that in six months there would be no more drugs. But how many years have passed? Why did so many people die? There are more drugs now. You can’t solve that by killing. They can only go after the poor because the poor can do nothing.]
According to critics of the President’s drug war, more than 30,000 people have been killed in anti-drug operations. But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) put the number at 5,526.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.