Five years into the Philippine government’s “war on drugs,” families of the victims are literally picking the remains of their loved ones from a public cemetery in the national capital after their five-year “burial contract” expired this year.
Expired burial contracts mean that the remains would be dug up and thrown into a common pit with all the other remains of poor and forgotten people.
Divine Word priest Flaviano “Flavie” Villanueva, has been trying his best to help families of the victims recover the remains of their loved ones through a program dubbed “Paghilom” or healing.
“As a priest, I have the sacred duty to recognize, live with what is right, and denounce what is wrong and if I can do that, then I would be happy to be called an activist,” said the priest, responding to allegations that he has links with revolutionary groups.
“Christ himself was a revolutionary. He was crucified because he did not choose to save himself,” said Father Villanueva.
On July 8, seven remains of the government’s “drug war” were exhumed from four cemeteries in the capital.
Even after death, the victims’ families, most of whom live in urban poor communities, continue to search for a place where they belong. (Photos by Vincent Go for LiCAS.news)