MANILA — Families of alleged extra-judicial killing (EJK) victims on Monday gathered for a Lenten recollection in Caloocan City in time for the Holy Week.
The gathering was led by Fr. Flavie Villanueva at the Our Lady of Grace Parish.
In his message, Fr. Villanueva said while Catholics recall the suffering and death of Jesus this Lent, it was also important to remember the suffering that families of EJK victims had gone through after losing their loved ones to the Duterte administration's bloody drug war.
"Naniniwala ako sa ... [mga] pamilya ng Program Paghilom, 295 ay madaming kwento ng pag-asa at bagong buhay,” Fr. Villanueva said.
(I believe in the families under Program Paghilom. There are 295 stories of hope and new life.)
Almost 200 people, mostly widows of alleged EJK victims in Metro Manila, attended the recollection.
Among them was “Lina” whose husband disappeared on May 28, 2022 and was found in a morgue 2 days after.
“Lina” recalled that her husband left with her brother-in-law and his friend for vehicle repair job.
“Hindi siya nakauwi, hanggang gabi inaantay ko siya hindi siya nakauwi, may pangako siyang bibilhan niya ng tsinelas iyong anak namin, tapos may pangako siyang gagawin ang bahay namin pagagandahin niya,” she said.
(He never came home. I waited for him until night. He promised me he would buy our child new slippers. He also promised he would make our lives better.)
"Beth," who lost her husband on Oct. 11, 2017, also shared her story.
She could still remember vividly the day when her husband was killed after policemen asked for his identification card and thereafter shouted “positive”.
“May ano po, kasi sa mga anak ko kailangan bilang magulang na naiwan, lakasan po ang loob ko na huwag ipakita sa mga anak ko na nanghina ako na may kulang, ganun po kailangan pong magpakatatag para sa mga bata para hindi sila panghinaan din ng loob,” she shared.
(My children need me as their remaining parent. That's why I need to keep myself strong and not be vulnerable around them. I need to keep going on for them so that they won't be disheartened.)
Progam Paghilom is a holistic approach being done by multisectoral volunteers which not only includes therapy sessions, but exhumations and re-autopsies to seek justice for the victims of the drug war as well as their families.