MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David criticized “the living dead” who either perpetrate or condone extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
David called for prayers for these people with “dead consciences” as Filipinos troop to cemeteries on Wednesday, November 1, for the annual remembrance of the dead, called “Undas” in the Philippines.
The bishop first made this call in the evening of October 24, the start of a novena leading to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, to remember drug war victims.
“Ipinagtitirik din natin ng kandila ngayong gabi ang mga buhay na patay – ang mga buhay pa ang katawan ngunit namatayan na ng konsensya,” David said.
(We also light candles for the living dead – those who are physically alive, but whose consciences have died.)
David particularly called for prayers for the killers of 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, who was stabbed at least 30 times, and for the Caloocan policemen who killed 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos in an alleged frame-up.
“Ipagtirik din natin ng kandila ang mga taong naniniwala at sumasang-ayon na ang bawat adik ay wala nang karapatang mabuhay, na walang makabubuti kundi ang puksain silang parang mga manok na napeste,” David said.
(Let us light candles also for those who believe and agree that addicts no longer deserve to live, that they deserve to be exterminated like infected chickens.)
Candles to ‘burn’ killers’ souls
For the killers and those who condone them, David said he hoped the fire from the candles would “burn their souls and refresh their consciences.”
“Dahil mga anak din sila ng Diyos at nangangailangan din sila ng kaligtasan, idasal natin na marinig nila sa kanilang isip ang walang tigil na pagtuka ng mga sisiw na ilang araw na namalagi sa bintanang salamin ng mga ataol ng kanilang mga pinaslang,” David said.
(For they too are God’s children in need of grace and salvation, let us pray that they be awakened in their sleep by the constant pecking of the chicks that had spent days on the glass windows of the coffins of those whom they had murdered.)
David made this appeal as President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has killed more than 14,000 people in police operations and vigilante-style killings. (READ: Undas 2017: ‘Drug war victims crying for justice’)
The Caloocan bishop said, “Kasama sa mga ipinagtitirik natin ng kandila ang mga hindi namatay kundi pinatay – hindi nawalan ng buhay dahil binawi ng Diyos kundi binawi ng mga taong nagdi-Diyos-diyosan.”
(We include among those whom we light candles for, those who did not just die but were killed – not because God had claimed them back, but because they had been snuffed out by those who play god.)
“Kaya isinasama natin sa mga ipinagtitirik natin ng kandila ang mga biktima ng mga krimen, ang mga napatay sa giyera sa Marawi, at higit sa lahat, ang mga pinaslang dahil sa malupit na giyera kontra-droga,” he added.
(We also remember the victims of crimes, those who have died in the war in Marawi, and most especially, those who have been victims of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.)
‘Hindi ito tama!’
David said it is gruesome to imagine the fate of many of these drug suspects.
“Nakapangingilabot isipin na maaaring buhay pa ang marami sa kanila nang sila’y balutan ng garbage bag, na hinabol pa nila ang kanilang mga huling hininga, tinalian sila na parang mga hayop, at nilagyan ng mga karatulang katulad ng, ‘Drug addict, huwag pamarisan,'” he said.
(We shudder at the thought that some of them might have still been alive when they were wrapped up with a garbage bag, that they might have gasped for their last breaths, tied up like animals and labeled with signs that say, “Drug addict, do not be like him.”)
David added: “Nagtitirik tayo ng mga kandila para sa kanila upang ipahayag na hindi ito tama! Hindi ito gawaing makatao! At dapat matigil na ang kahibangang ito! Kahit ang mga hayop ay hindi ganyan kalupit!“
(We light candles for them in order to declare that this is not right! This is not human! And this insanity should be stopped! Even animals aren’t this cruel!)
During the Mass led by David, relatives of EJK victims lit candles beside a glass case full of chicks, symbolizing their desire to peck the consciences of their loved ones’ murderers.
After the Mass, David also prayed over the victims’ families.
Days later, on the eve of Undas, relatives of EJK victims gathered as well to pray for their loved ones. (READ: On eve of Undas, mothers seek justice for slain teenage sons)
Father Gilbert Billena, spokesperson of the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, delivered the homily in the Mass on October 31.
“Hindi magiging tahimik ang ating mga kapatid na mga pinaslang. Sila ay laging magpapaalala sa atin, tuwing November, tuwing kanilang death anniversary, na kamtin ang katarungan,” Billena said.
(Our slain brothers and sisters will never be in peace. They will always remind us, every November, every time it is their death anniversary, to seek justice for them.) – Rappler.com