GENEVA, Switzerland – It is Llore Pasco’s second time in this chilly city.
Her first was when the coronavirus pandemic had just started in March 2020. Then, she talked to United Nations experts and diplomats of member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), contributing to the submission of reports about the Duterte government’s anti-drug campaign.
Pasco, representing families of the victims of Duterte’s drug war under the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, is back because she says there has been no justice for her two sons found dead at the University of the Philippines Arboretum on May 12, 2017.
Pasco firmly believes her sons were extrajudicially killed as they bore torture marks, contrary to police’s claims that Crisanto, 34, and Juan Carlos, 31, were robbers who were killed by fellow criminals.
“My sons had gunshot wounds all over, on the head, at the back and front,” she said.
The still grieving mother denied her sons were involved in a robbery that the police said happened. She said Crisanto was in fact on his way to their office to claim his license as a security guard on the day they were found dead. That both sons were found lifeless in an isolated place is still a mystery to her.
“Who would be capable of picking up my sons when they were not together at the time, finding them dead later and with a convenient story, but the police?” she asked.
Upon learning the fate of her sons, Pasco initially did not know what to do. But human rights lawyers immediately assisted her, even negotiating for lower fees from the funeral parlor.
She was also encouraged by one of her children to join Rise Up for Life and for Rights, where she became one of its leaders. Her sons’ cases were among the complaints filed against Duterte before the International Criminal Court.
Pasco was later visited at her residence by unidentified men who threatened her, forcing her to move.
Despite the threats, Pasco said she takes courage from her grandchildren, Crisanto’s four kids.
“The children are alright, all of them still in school. But I wish for justice for their father and uncle. That is why I fight for justice,” she said.
In Geneva, Pasco is again part of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch delegation to the UNHRC discussions on the Philippines on Monday, November 14. A high-level Philippine government mission is expected to attend and again say that the justice system in the country is working, but Pasco disagrees.
“How can the government claim that it brought justice to the thousands of victims of Duterte’s drug war when no justice has been given my sons? How can they say the justice system works when only a few dozen policemen have been charged and only the killers of Kian delos Santos have been initially convicted?” she asked.
Pasco hopes the international community will continue to listen, and this is why she agreed to again join the Philippine UPR Watch delegation. (TIMELINE: The International Criminal Court and Duterte’s bloody war on drugs)
In the week leading up to the review of the Philippines, Pasco will be speaking in a side event at the UN Palais des Nations. She said she will testify that the Philippine government is not doing anything about her sons’ deaths.
“I will challenge President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to prove he is different from Duterte. Until my sons’ murders and all other state-perpetrated killings and crimes against humanity have been solved, and rampant human rights violations are stopped, I will always be prepared to tell the world about the real situation in the Philippines,” she said. – Rappler.com
Raymund Villanueva was a multi-term national director of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, where he also served as deputy secretary-general. He is currently the director for radio and overall editor of Kodao Productions, board member of the People’s Alternative Media Network, and NUJP media safety officer for Luzon.