Every year on Holy Wednesday, the families of the disappeared and human rights defenders gather to reflect on the passion of Jesus Christ even as they relate the suffering from injustice of their beloved desaparecidos to Jesus’ agony on Calvary Hill.
Today, they come together at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City to reflect on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ and to hold a truth-telling session with a mother of a victim of enforced disappearance and a wife of a victim of extrajudicial killing which are both related to government’s war on drugs. A playback performance by DulamBuhay theater artists follows each reflection.
Reflecting on the seventh Last Word, Edita Burgos, mother of disappeared Jonas Burgos stated that, “Though we be victims (of oppression and injustice), we choose to be Christ’s presence on earth.”
“As we now ponder on the pains endured by the crucified Christ and the tortured desaparecidos, we become conscious of the palpable threat to our own life, liberty, and security in the struggle for the protection and promotion of human rights and basic freedoms,” said Aileen Bacalso, Secretary General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).
Celia Sevilla, Advocacy Officer of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in reacting to the linking of human rights groups to drug syndicates by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as the earlier statement by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that these organizations could be “unwitting tools” of drug syndicates out to destabilize the government, underscored that the allegation is “patently preposterous.”
“Worse, they could embolden mindless vigilantes, who toe the ‘kill, kill, kill’ line of Duterte, to target human rights defenders,” she added.
Nilda Sevilla, Co-chairperson of FIND and sister of disappeared labor and human rights lawyer Hermon Lagman, pointed out that, “While these irresponsible and malicious pronouncements are relevant to the Lenten season as they remind us of the malevolent accusations against Jesus Christ that led to his crucifixion, they are nonetheless anathema to the positive values of love, faith, and truth that underlie Lent.”
NILDA L. SEVILLA
MARY AILEEN DIEZ-BACALSO
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