Day of Remembrance. (Graphics by BMN/BangsamoroToday)

COTABATO CITY (December 8, 2023) – A groundbreaking ceremony for the first memorial site dedicated to extrajudicial killings victims is set to happen on December 11 at the La Loma Cemetery in Manila City. Families and loved ones of victims will gather in this solemn occasion to commemorate the lives lost to violence because of the anti-drug war campaign of the previous administration, IDEALS said on a media advisory officially received today by the Bangsamoro Multimedia Network and BangsamoroToday.

The media advisory said that through the ARISE Project of Paghilom, spearheaded by Fr. Flavie Villanueva’s Arnold Janssen Kalinga Foundation Inc., “victims can now have a permanent and more dignified resting place.”

It added that the program will provide holistic assistance to the families in their healing and recovery, including facilitating their access to justice.

“Mula noong pinaslang ang aming mga mahal sa buhay dahil sa war on drugs, patuloy ang aming paghilom. Narito kami, hindi para manatiling biktima lamang kundi para tumindig at magpakilala bilang mga survivors at grupo ng advocates,” (Since our loved ones were killed in Duterte’s War on Drugs, our healing and recovery are continuous. We are here not to remain as victims, but to stand our ground and introduce ourselves as survivors and advocates), Mary Jane Gerangco, Paghilom member said.

Gerangco is also the Vice-President of Alyansa para sa Karapatang Pantao, a group of surviving families who now advocates.

The advisory continued and said that “since President Duterte’s election in 2016, this war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives, thereby demonstrating a culture of violence, oppression and a violation of the right to freedom from execution, instead of eradicating the real problem.”

“What we want is justice, and because this issue is for the human rights of every individual, we support the continuous investigation of the International Criminal Court or ICC. We hope that our call will be given attention. We need a thorough investigation until equal rights are given to all. It is just right that the government serves justice and whatever is due to us,” Gerangco stressed.

The program will start at 8:30 – 11:30 AM on December 11, and expected to deliver their solidarity messages were UN OHCHR Representative Signe Poulsen, Former Sen. Leila de Lima, Former VP Leni Robredo, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Bishop Pablo “Ambo” David, D.D.

It said that since 2017, IDEALS has provided legal assistance, documentation, capacity-building and psychosocial support to Paghilom families. Now, they are empowered to demand accountability and have strengthened their defense of human rights. (Tu Alid Alfonso, BMN/BangsamoroToday, with a report from IDEALS)

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