1,000 candles lit for EJK victims on All Souls’ Day

Paterno Esmaquel II
1,000 candles lit for EJK victims on All Souls’ Day
'Kapag ang tao ay dinuraan mo, para mo na ring dinuraan ang Diyos,' says Father Flaviano Villanueva of the Society of the Divine Word

MANILA, Philippines – Relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) lit a thousand candles for their loved ones on Thursday, November 2, as Catholics remembered the dead on All Souls’ Day.  

The candle-lighting activity was held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial for victims of abuses during the Marcos dictatorship. Human rights advocates joined the families of EJK victims during Thursday’s activity. 

NO TO EJK. Father Robert Reyes and Father Flaviano Villanueva join relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in a prayer service on November 2, 2017. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

Father Flaviano Villanueva of the Society of the Divine Word, a Catholic religious order known by the initials SVD, delivered the homily in a Mass for the event on Thursday.

Villanueva belongs to the SVD secretariat on peace and justice.

Ngayon, araw ng mga kaluluwa, araw ng mga patay. At dito rin natin ginugunita ang mga pinatay,” Villanueva said in his homily. (Today, the day for souls, the day of the dead. And here we also remember those who were killed.)

Villanueva then emphasized hope in the face of death. 

Sa kabila ng iyong sinasapit na kasinungalingan, dahil pinatay nang walang katarungan ang iyong mahal sa buhay, ang katotohanan ay mananaig din,” the priest said. (In the face of the lies you’re facing because your loved ones were killed unjustly, the truth will still prevail.)

MEMORIAL FOR VICTIMS. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial for victims of the Marcos dictatorship, is the site of the candle-lighting activity for victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) on November 2, 2017. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

‘Para mo na ring dinuraan ang Diyos’

In his homily, Villanueva also said disrespecting others is like blaspheming God.

Kapag ang tao ay dinuraan mo, para mo na ring dinuraan ang Diyos. ‘Pag ang tao, niloko mo, niloloko mo rin ang Diyos. Kapag ang tao, sinampal mo sa mukha, para mo ring sinasampal ang Diyos. Kapag ang tao, minahal mo, minamahal mo rin ang Diyos,” Villanueva said.

(If you spit on other people, it’s like you’re spitting on God. If you fool other people, it’s like you’re fooling God. If you slap a person on the face, it’s like you’re also slapping God. If you love a person, you’re also loving God.) 

THOUSAND CANDLES. The candle-lighting for victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) is held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. Photos by Maria Tan

Other Catholics also remembered EJK victims as Filipinos marked All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, in a commemoration locally called Undas. (READ: Top Catholic seminary hits killings in Duterte drug war

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, for one, criticized “the living dead” who either perpetrate or condone EJKs. 

Their remembrances come days before a Mass and procession against killings, to be held along the iconic EDSA highway on November 5. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.