Prayer vigil held for EJK victims
MANILA, Philippines — “Profound grief” at the “death of institutions, Congress and the rule of law” prevailed at the historic Mendiola Peace Arch in Manila on Wednesday during a prayer vigil for the estimated 30,000 alleged victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the government’s war on drugs.
Catholic priests and outspoken critics of the antidrug campaign Albert Alejo, Flavie Villanueva and Robert Reyes celebrated a Mass that called for the “restoration of peace, justice and dignity of human lives.”
“A person who is killed is not a mere number or statistic. Killing a person means ending his and his children’s dreams, his capacity to love, create and contribute to society,” Alejo said.
The candles lit by the mothers, wives and children of EJK victims should remind the government of its failure to protect and care for the poor and the vulnerable, Reyes said.
Villanueva, an advocate for the education and rehabilitation of suspected drug personalities, offered prayers to “end the violation of human dignity of every Filipino and the followers of Christ.”
The priests said they hoped that EJK victims will never be forgotten whatever their number—30,000 according to civil society groups or 5,000 as claimed by the police.
Pwersa ng Pamayanan para sa Voluntarismo at Reporma, one of the civic groups that joined the vigil, said the drug war had turned into an “antipoor policy” that gives women an added burden as some of them succumb to depression.
“I hope the killings would stop because even small children are suffering,” said the widow of drug suspect Rolando Ocampo who was shot with two others by police in Barangay 19 in Manila on Oct. 11, 2017. The police said the men had fought it out, but CCTV footage in the neighborhood indicated that they were executed.
The widow said she now had to take care of their three young kids by herself.
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