February 21, 2017
Families of victims of drug-related killings in Manila join trauma & stress debriefing session sponsored by faith-based groups in Quezon City. Feb 11 Photo by Mark Saludes
A faith-based group in Manila is conducting trauma and stress-debriefing sessions for families of victims of drug-drug related killings in an attempt to "broaden the circle of those who will speak the truth."
Carmelite priest Gilbert Billena of the group Rise Up said the family meetings aim to create a support group that will help them overcome trauma. The priest said his group condemns the proliferation of illegal drugs but is against the methods used by the government to go after suspected drug users and peddlers.
"The very people who should be witnesses in cases against the suppliers are viciously killed, while the suppliers merely look for new pushers," said Fr Billena.
Rise Up conducted its first debriefing last week, seven months after Philippine President Rodrigo launched an intensified campaign against narcotics that resulted in the death of about 7,000 people.
Nardy Sabino of the Promotion of Church People's Response said some "survivors" of summary executions also attended the session. "We also want to make sure that they will be given due process of law," he said.
Brother Ciriaco Santiago, a Redemptorist missionary, said the families of victims and survivors of the killings need a community that will listen to them.
"These people are the poorest of the poor and they have no voice in our society," said the religious brother. "If the church will not act, at least to give them a chance to talk, who else will provide," he added.