“We unite to demand an end to the killings in the name of war on drugs. Justice and due process must be upheld,” said Mary Queen Shelsy Paño, spokesperson of Stop The Killings Network.
The network was formed to call against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, reportedly reaching almost 2,000 in President Rodrigo Duterte’s two-month reign and war on drugs.
A candle lighting activity in Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros, Manila was held on August 31, participated by 600 students.
In different schools and churches, candles and torches were lit by students, faculty, school administration and church people to express alarm of students and church people over the spate of killings related to Duterte’ war on drugs.
“We are alarmed over the killing spree, although we are one with the government and the people to eradicate the drug menace in the country, the killing spree is not the solution to the war on drugs,” added Paño.
In a Senate investigation about the anti-drugs campaign last August 23, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa reported that 756 have been killed in cross-fires during police operations.
Meanwhile 1,160 are still under investigation which the PNP Chief described as possible vigilante or syndicate-related killings bringing the total of casualties to 1,910.
“Karamahin sa mga naging biktima [ng pagpatay sa gera kontra sa droga] ay mga mahihirap na mga nasa komunidad (Most of the victims of killings in the ‘war against drugs’ come from poor communities),” said Prof. Jerry Imbog from Colegio de San Juan de Letran during the candle lighting at the said school.
Prof. Imbog stressed that the drug problem is only a symptom of a widespread and deeply rooted crisis of the society: poverty, hunger, absence of decent jobs and living wage.
In a manifesto, the Stop The Killings Network said that, “the most effective way to solve the drug menace is to address the socio-economic roots of this problem.”
(See IN PHOTOS: Candles lit across Metro Manila to call vs extrajudicial killings for more photos)
The candle lighting dubbed as “Light for Life” was also held in Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Technology (EARIST) and Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) in Manila, Sto. Domingo Church and Good Shepherd in Quezon City, Baclaran Redemptorist Church in Parañaque City, Monumento Circle in Caloocan City, People’s Park in Valenzuela City and Our Lady of Abandoned Church and a community in Muntinlupa City.