MANILA, Philippines – There are deaths that God willed but there are also those — such as the fatalities in the government’s anti-narcotics campaign — done by men that must be stopped as the killings have caused injustice.
This was the message of Fr. Benjamin Alforque during a Mass held at the San Isidro Labrador Parish in Brgy. Bagong Silangan, Quezon City on Tuesday, Oct. 31, for the victims of drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.
“Ang paggunita natin sa mga namatay…hindi ordinaryong pagkamatay, kamatayan ng pagpaslang nang walang katarungan…hindi natural death…hindi will of God,” Alforque told Mass attendees, among them members of religious and faith-based organizations, families and friends of drug war victims, and the group, Rise Up for Life and for Rights.
Despite the victims’ unjust deaths, the kin of the departed must still learn to forgive and also pray that those behind the killings learn to mend their ways, respect every person’s dignity, and realize that “rehab and not death” is still the best solution to the drug menace, according to Alforque.
Also, the priest said the killing of poor people must end and the narcotics problem should be solved by stopping the sources of illegal drugs and going after those supplying them.
“Itigil po ang pamamaslang sa mga mahihirap, itigil ang source ng drugs, bigyang katarungan mga biktima na mahihirap at magkaroon ng tooo na paghuli sa pinanggalingan ng droga kasi kilala naman nila ‘yon,” said Alforque.
Justice for Angelito
Emily Soriano was among those who attended the Mass on Tuesday, as Filipinos started flocking to cemeteries ahead of the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
She was the mother of 16-year-old Angelito Soriano, who was among the seven people killed on December 28, 2016 by armed masked men looking for a drug suspect in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
Emily said she still could not accept what happened to Angelito almost a year after his death, and she was praying that what befell her son would not happen to other children.
“Hindi ko pa rin matanggap ang nangyari sa anak ko ..gusto ko po nangyari sa anak ko huwag nang maulit sa iba,” she said.
She added that those supplying drugs must be the ones punished and not the innocent and poor victims like Angelito.
“Hulihin nila mga nagbebenta ng droga…Ang mga inosente ang nabibiktima …Kami po ang mga mahihirap ang nabibiktima…” Emily said.
Justice for Renato, Jaypee, Cherwen
Like the case of Angelito and the high-profile deaths of Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, there is also no justice yet for several other individuals who perished in drug-related killings.
Among them were father-and-son Renato and Jaypee Bertes, who were killed inside a police station in Pasay City on July 7, 2016 after they were arrested for their alleged link to illegal drugs. The two were killed after Jaypee allegedly tried to grab the gun of a policeman.
According to Harra Kazuo, the partner of Jaypee, the latter and Renato were allegedly tortured at the police station before they were killed.
Kathrina Polo, the widow of Cherwen Polo, also wants to seek justice for the death of her husband.
The 38-year-old Cherwen was among the five drug suspects slain during an August 14, 2016 alleged shootout with policemen in Payatas, Quezon City. But according to Kathrina, Cherwen did not fight with authorities because he was sleeping at the time.
Justice for Hideyoshi and Raymart
Also, justice appears to have eluded Hideyoshi Kawata. The 17-year-old boy, a Grade 11 student at STI-Caloocan, was shot dead at the house of his mother in the city’s Barangay 154, Bagong Barrio on January 8, 2017 after allegedly helping a drug suspect in a shootout during a buy bust operation.
Kawata supposedly confronted with an Uzi submachine gun the policemen pursuing their original target, Emilio “Buboy” Bolanin — his mother’s boyfriend — prompting authorities to shoot Kawata.
But according to Kawata’s girlfriend, Mishel Ordillos, who was with him when policemen barged into the house of Kawata’s mother, her boyfriend didn’t have a gun and that authorities allegedly pointed guns at her and Kawata, demanding to know if the latter was Buboy.
Also seeking justice is the family of Raymart Siapo. The 19-year-old teener, who was born with club or twisted feet and thus unable to run, was abducted then executed in April 2017 by a death squad on motorcycles, operating in Navotas City.
According to Raymart’s mother, Luzviminda Siapo, an overseas Filipino worker in Kuwait, she learned that her son’s name appeared on a drug suspects’ list after he had an altercation with neighbors.
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