Kin and friends of victims of “drug-related” killings in the Philippines came out in the streets on the eve of Halloween to “haunt” President Rodrigo Duterte.
They celebrated Mass a few meters from the presidential palace in Manila to dramatize their demand for justice and to remember their departed loved ones.
“[The observance of All Souls’ Day] is a reminder to the families of the victims that there is a future waiting for them,” said Catholic priest Flaviano Villanueva of the Society of the Divine Word who led the celebration.
Jesuit priest Albert Alejo also addressed the crowd, saying that remembering those who died is not about numbers. “A person who is killed is not just a number,” he said.
The priest stressed the importance of speaking out, of telling the truth behind the killings, and of seeking justice for those who were killed.
“It is sad if those who are alive keep their silence. Those who died will not be silent,” said Father Alejo. “We are not only condoling with the families but we vow to continue their loving,” he added.
The priests have been involved in a project they dubbed “paghilom,” or “healing,” that aims to help families of victims of the “drug war” through psychosocial and spiritual counselling.
Human rights groups reported that more than 30,000 people have already been killed in the government’s anti-narcotics operations. Authorities, however, said the figure is less than 6,000.