Love and mercy vs fear and death
To protect human rights; to walk the path of peace; to build a violence free community
-VAW-free community starts with me
These messages greeted the participants of the KAABAG “Learning Session and Dialogue on Extrajudicial Killings in the Context of Violence Against Families.” It was the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I participated in this encounter as a representative of the Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc.
After the preliminaries, P. Supt. Yusores introduced herself as the leader for Human Rights Issues of the Philippine National Police for the province. I liked the presentation because it brought down the national figures into the local, provincial level. Then she presented the program for the anti-illegal drugs drive of the provincial government led by Gov. Hilario Davide III. She was gentle and open so much so that in the open forum there was no hesitation in asking her questions like: Can they not shoot the feet or some other body parts so it would not result in death? Or can they not have other non-lethal weapons?
Commission on Human Rights Chief Investigator for Region 7 Leo Villarino calmly presented a very helpful discussion on “Extrajudicial Killings in the Context of Human Rights.” He provided a very clear definition of extrajudicial killings; this was useful because it would prevent irresponsible accusations. He told us that he had recently had a session with personnel of PNP. He expressed hope that there would be more of these sessions.
The heart of the event was the sharing of two female relatives regarding the killing of their loved ones. The wife narrated that her husband was open to imprisonment, so why did they have to shoot and kill him?
The other woman was confused; she did not understand why her son was killed and her grandson arrested. She explained that her grandson was earning not as a pusher but as a repairman of gadgets. Her sorrow and confusion showed when she could not even narrate the events in chronological order. When the case was filed, she was shocked by the high rate of legal fees.
They were both in tears. Because I had been near them, their pain really reached me. When I think of that moment, I think of Rudy Romano. How his family must have suffered because they did not even know what actually happened to him. I cannot imagine the sense of loss his Redemptorist family must have felt.
We wrote down our various commitments to peace and human rights and posted them on a tarpaulin. Tess Banaynal-Fernandez in her closing statement said that we need to start in the family with positive discipline.
My commitment has been to creative human rights education. In Our Lady of Joy Learning Center, I have been letting the Grade 10 students prepare posters with the rights of the child so they can post them in the other classrooms for human rights week. I asked my Grade 7 to reflect on the rights they enjoy and how these have helped them to grow. This was meant to make them sensitive of those who are deprived or whose rights have been violated.
On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Dennis Villarojo gave a very beautiful homily, very relevant to the atmosphere created by the killings we hear, read and view these days. He narrated that prior to the entry of Christianity in the Americas, in Mexico their religion demanded the sacrifice of virgins — human sacrifices. Among the families there was great fear, for they never knew when their turn to provide the human sacrifice would come. A great shift occurred with the coming of Christianity and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The fear and sorrow over loss has been replaced with God’s love and mercy.
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