Forty desaparecido cases were reported in the first two years of the Duterte presidency.
While the country marked Holy Week, members of human rights groups called on relatives of those killed in the government’s war against drugs to share their stories as a way of easing the pain of loss.
The groups Families of Victims of the Involuntary Disappearances (FIND), Task Force Detainees, Medical Action Group, Balay Rehabilitation Center and iDefend, among others, urged those left behind by victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) to find comfort and healing in bonding together and telling the stories of their loved ones.
They linked arms, lit candles, listened to testimonies and watched actors re-enact human rights violations through the years, at an activity held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
Relatives of those who disappeared some 40 years ago under then President Ferdinand Marcos’ rule said relatives of EJK victims were lucky because they had bodies to bury and tombs to visit.
One relative of an EJK victim said hunger was the reason poor people used drugs—a small P100-pack of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride could make users go for days without food, while P100 was good only for one meal.
The human rights groups likened the Filipino people’s suffering to the cross Jesus Christ carried to Mount Calvary where he was crucified, and offered to help relatives of EJK victims cope with the pain and find closure.