By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
((©) 2018 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – “When he was mayor of Davao City, Rody Duterte would read on his television program, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (coming from
the people, going to the people) a list of names of drug pushers and drug addicts and other criminals. In a matter of weeks, all those in the “Duterte's List” were all dead.”
Fr. Amado Picardal, a 63-year-old native of Mindanao's Iligan City, who is delivering his sermon on a farewell, three-university tour of the United States, said when he returns to Manila after Feb. 6, 2018, he will ride into the sunset by biking and preaching his way to “Bikol, Samar and his native Mindanao and out into my hermitage.”
Along the way, he said he will be leaving three messages – “one, to stop the killings; two, no to martial law; and three, resume the peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF). I will be biking along to draw attention to these concerns.”
Father Picardal, a holder of a doctorate in Theology at Gregorian University in Rome, said his dream of stopping Mr. Duterte's streak of extra-judicial killings (EJK's) hit a firewall when he learned that Mr. Duterte “psychiatric report” disclosed during the course of Mr. Duterte's annulment of marriage that Mr. Duterte has “'no sense of guilt and remorse.' Probably, the killing will not stop so what can we do? We can denounce and denounce. We do not stop denouncing. What is also important is how do we awaken the conscience of the people? Probably, we can pray for his conversion. Or we can pray that the Lord will deliver us from evil.”
FR. AMADO PICARDAL, a Redemptorist, presented a sobering talk on “Burying the Dead: Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines and the Catholic Response” before a roomful of stunned crowd at De Paul University's Student Center at 314B 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois Thursday, Jan. 25. It will be his last public appearance as he sets out to retire from the priesthood and become a hermit. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
He also said that the Philippines needs international pressure to tell Mr. Duterte "enough is enough," hoping that the same international pressure that turned things around in South Africa's apartheid will also happen in the Philippines.
Father Picardal, a Redemptorist priest, spoke about “Burying the Dead: Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines and the Catholic Response” before a roomful of stunned crowd at De Paul University's Student Center at 314B 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois Thursday, Jan. 25. The event is part of DePaul’s Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) programming. He will also speak at Seton Hall University in New Jersey on Feb. 5 and at Columbia University in New York on Feb. 6 on the same topic.
He said aside from doing a corporal work of mercy of burying the dead, the Catholic Church is also spending money for the burial of the EJK victims whose survivors cannot afford to pay for their funeral expenses. The expenses have been raised from P1,000 (US$20) to P50,000 (US$1,000) to P60,000 (US$1,200), a seven-month income for a bread winner, by the police for “medical examination.” This amount is being split between a police officer and funeral parlor owner and they “make a killing out of killings.”
His Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Paranaque has already given away P1-million (US$20,000) to EJK victims' families and other churches are doing the same.
VICTIMS OF DDS:
THIS IS A COMMON gory scene left by Davao Death Squads in Davao City posted on the blog of Fr. Amado Picardal that is being replicated nationwide with the template being adopted by President Rody Duterte #WarOnDrugs. (JGL Photograb from Fr. Amado Picardal's presentation)
For families who could not afford the funeral expenses, Fr. Picardal said, “They just leave the remains in the funeral parlors and bodies are dumped in common grave as they pile up.”
Aside from consolidated masses for EJK's by priests, churches also provide “psycho-spiritual de-briefing and therapy for families of victims to help them cope up with their shock.”
Churches have also provided financial aids to surviving families by providing them socioeconomic and livelihood projects.
Catholic universities like La Salle and Ateneo work with the Commission on Human Rights and the media and photojournalists to document “those who are killed, why they are killed, when and where they were killed, what happened, how they were killed, who were in the units involved in the killings, including the leaders.”
LOSING HER FATHER:
A DAUGHTER OF ONE of the victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK's) could no longer contain her emotion during a memorial service of her father. This is a common phenomenon around urban poor slum areas in the Philippines were EJK's abound. (JGL Photograb from Fr. Amado Picardal's presentation)
Father Picardal said one of the Redemptorist priests, Jun Santiago, has also joined photojournalists called “night crawlers” to “document the killings and hold photo exhibits for the people, who should see what happened. Sometimes, pictures, not just numbers, will awaken the conscience of the people. We also collaborate with human rights groups and civil society to hold the perpetrators accountable before local and international criminal courts.”
Fr. Picardal said groups within the church are collaborating with law groups to provide legal aid for investigation and filing of cases against police officers involved in EJK's.
He cited a religious sister, Neneth Tan Yu, a member of RGS (Religious Good Shepherd), who lives among the urban poor communities in Metro Manila. Ms. Yu organized a group to file a writ of amparo to protect the community from police harassment so that police officers, identified with the killings, cannot enter the victims' areas.
Fr. Picardal said confronted with these killings, the churches have not been silent at all. He said the churches not only issued three pastoral letters, denouncing EJKs, read in all churches capped by tolling of bells all over the Philippines but four bishops led by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Manila Cardinal Tagle visited President Duterte in Malacanang to talk about the EJK. “The problem is you cannot dialogue with the President. He does not listen. You can go there everyday. His mind is already made up.”
WITH BREAD WINNER getting killed in Duterte's #WarOnDrugs, surviving relatives no longer claim the remains of their dead at the funeral, as bodies pile up and get buried in a common grave. (JGL Photograb from Fr. Amado Picardal's presentation)
Fr. Picardal said the church will always act the part of its prophetic mission so it will serve “as conscience of society, making the people aware of the evils around them, especially the soldiers of death to break the numbness and apathy and learning to breathe to renounce EJK's, violation of human rights and lack of due process and abuse of those in power to announce the gospel of life of justice and of peace and calling people to conversion and to seek justice and accountability of these killings, this is the role of church as a prophetic community.”
Fr. Picardal also said that the church and bishops also provide sanctuaries, notably Senior Police Officer III (SPO3) Arthur Lascanas and civilian asset Edgar Matobato, who are hidden in a maze of rectories, seminaries, retreat houses, novitiate houses and convents. He said Mr. Matobato turned to him for help when Matobato could not trust the government's Witness Protection Program.
He said he is happy to report that one of the witnesses under the church sanctuaries has been admitted as witness to their complaint of crimes against humanity filed against the President Duterte and his henchmen before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Father Picardal said his group is waiting any moment now for the resolution of the case of finding a probable cause against Mr. Duterte and company that will stop cold the crime of impunity against the Filipino people.
“I'LL BE HAPPY TO SLAUGHTER THEM”:
WITH NO “GUILT AND REMORSE,” President Rody Duterte could make good his threat to “massacre three million drug addicts in the Philippines,” something which Fr. Amado Picardal said should be stopped at all cost as he awaits the resolution of the case of crimes against humanity his group filed before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. (JGL Photograb from Fr. Amado Picardal's presentation)
BOTHERED BY CONSCIENCE
He said one of their witnesses was a member of the DDS, who was bothered by his conscience when he was ordered to “kill a pregnant woman and a five-year-old child, who they became close to. They were told to make it (killing) clean, no witnesses. We are preparing some of these witnesses will turn (around) and become witnesses. Maybe some of them have resigned already (from the police force) while others applied for schooling.”
When asked by this reporter if he is not scared for putting his life in harm's way for his advocacy against the powerful President Duterte, Fr. Picardal said, “I would say it is risky. I'm aware of the risk and I am used to this during the martial law regime. I suffered a lot of torture and it's the same. I am prepared for anything. I am not afraid of anything. What is important is I speak truth to power. To continue to advocate for the value of human rights.”
Fr. Picardal said, “I first became aware of this EJK's (of Mr. Duterte) when I was a priest in Davao. I was asked by a vegetable vendor, a poor woman Clarita was her name, to preside over the funeral service of her teen-aged son named Fernando, who was killed by the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Three of her sons were also killed by DDS. Fernando was the fourth.
“Now as the killings continue with impunity all over the country, many of the killing fields are in the urban slum areas of urban poor communities of major cities and most of the suspected drug users are addicts and suspected drug pushers many of them in the list by barangay (village) officials and PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency).
FR. AMADO PICARDAL (left at the rostrum) responds to a question posed during the open forum on his talk about “Burying the Dead: Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines and the Catholic Response” before a roomful of stunned crowd at De Paul University's Student Center at 314B 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois Thursday, Jan. 25, as others wait for their turns to field questions from the retiring Redemptorist priest. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
“When he was Mayor, Duterte would announce a list of names on his television program, Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa (coming from the masses, going to the masses). And in a matter of weeks, those in the list would be dead. And he has done it also nationwide since he became president.”
He said, “barangay leaders are required to compile names to be considered as addicts and users and pushers and they are submitted. And the list is long called Duterte's list.”
Father Picardal said when he was parish priest in Davao City for 16 years, an unidentified monitor handed him a copy of compiled body count of EJK's from 1998 to 2015. He said, the total of EJK's is 1,424, which is composed of 1,367 male and 57 female; 132 minors killed (17 years-old and below) 126 boys and 6 girls. The youngest was a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl; 476 young adults (18-25) 612 older adults (26-years-old and above); 201 victims whose age were not given.
He said in almost two years of Mr. Duterte's presidency, there have been reports of 16,000 being killed without due process.
FR. AMADO PICARDAL (fifth from left) gets together with some of those who attended his talk about “Burying the Dead: Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines and the Catholic Response” before a roomful of stunned crowd at De Paul University's Student Center at 314B 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois Thursday, Jan. 25. The event is part of DePaul’s Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) programming. Among those in photo are William “Bill” T. Cavanaugh (to Father Picardal's right), Senior Research Professor, CWCIT, and Professor of Catholic Studies, Karen Kraft (third from right, back row) of CWCIT's Communications & Publications, Anna Galon (extreme right), CWCIT student assistant, Mai Ya Arcilla (extreme right, in front of Ms. Galon), secretary-general of ANAKBAYAN-CHICAGO and Lorena Buni (to Mai Ya's right) of AnakBayan-Chicago, Jerry Clarito (extreme right, squatting) of Filipino American Human Rights Alliance, Joseph G. Lariosa of Journal GlobaLinks and Francis Salinel, Executive Assistant, CWCIT. (JGL Photo)
Father Picardal said, “Those killed were not just men. But also women. And minors. And most well-known minor is the 7(sic)-year-old Kian de los Santos. He was the 54th minor killed. What was unique to Kian was that the police claimed that he fought back.
“There was a CCTV (closed circuit television) that recorded what happened. He was shot point-blank. And when he died, they (the killers) put a gun (beside the body). These killings are (inaudible) components on the war on drugs.
“Duterte claimed that there are three-million plus addicts in the Philippines. He (Duterte) said that if 'Hitler massacred three Million Jews .. . there is (sic) three million drug addicts in the Philippines, there are... I'd be happy to slaughter them.'” Although the PDEA (head) said real drug addicts number 1.8-million, but because he dared to contradict the figures of Mr. Duterte, he was sacked.
“And Duterte during the election promised to get rid of criminality, drugs and corruption within three to six months and that is why, he won.
FR. AMADO PICARDAL (left) listens to the question posed by Joseph G. Lariosa during an interview shortly after the retiring Redemptorist priest talked about “Burying the Dead: Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines and the Catholic Response” before a roomful of stunned crowd at De Paul University's Student Center at 314B 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois Thursday, Jan. 25. (JGL Photo)
“What is the logic of EJK's? Why is it at (the) heart on war on drugs? Killing the addicts will deter drug use. And lessen demand of drugs. Others will be discouraged from doing drugs since drug user will be prone to committing crimes, killing them would lessen criminality. To be drug users/addicts is to be criminal.”
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