Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today urged her countrymen to continue praying and fighting for justice for young Filipino victims of extrajudicial killings and other state-led abuses, as well as their loved ones left behind.
In her message on the commemoration of Niños Inocentes today (Dec. 28), De Lima lamented how Mr. Duterte mirrors the brutality and violence of King Herod of Judea who is known from the stories of the Bible for having ordered the killings of innocent children in an attempt to kill Jesus Christ.
“Kasabay ng paggunita ng Pista ng Niños Inocentes—ang pag-alala sa mga batang ipinapatay ni Haring Herodes matapos ipanganak si Hesukristo dahil sa takot na mapatalsik sa kapangyarihan—inaanyayahan ko po ang ating mga kababayan na ipanalangin ang lahat ng batang naging biktima ng karahasan at walang awang pamamaslang sa ating bayan,” she said.
“Taimtim po nating ipagdasal na makamit din ng marami pang biktima ng pamamaslang, karahasan, at pagsasamantala ang tunay at ganap na hustisya,” added the former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.
Celebrated by the Catholic Church every Dec. 28 in various parts of the world as part of the Christmas season, Niños Inocentes commemorates the innocent children who were killed upon the order of King Herod, fearful of being overthrown by the prophesized Messiah, to ensure newborn Jesus Christ’s death.
Also known as the Feast of Holy Innocent, it is commemorated within the season of Christmas because the holy innocents offered their lives for the newborn Savior.
In the country, De Lima recalled the names of several innocent children who were considered as mere “collateral damage” by the current regime led by a despotic leader like Herod who “will do everything in his power just to satisfy his caprices and bloodlust no matter how inhumane his ways are.”
They include Saniño Butucan, Danica May Garcia, Francisco Manosca, Althea Fhem Barbon, Reynaldo de Guzman, Carl Arnaiz, Kian delos Santos and Myka Ulpina, to name some.
“Nakapangingilabot. Ang patuloy na pagpatay ng libo-libong mahihirap na Pilipino, at ang pumaslang ng mga batang walang kalaban-laban. Mga batang nangangarap para sa sarili, magulang at pamilya, subalit pinaguho ng mismong estadong may tungkuling protektahan, gabayan at arugain sila,” she said.
Despite her and other human rights defenders’ repeated calls to an end to extrajudicial killings in the country, De Lima said the government continued to promote violence and killings that led to the death of an estimate of more than 27,000 Filipinos, including children.
“Sa simula pa lang ng War on Drugs, atin nang kinondena ang mga karumal-dumal na pagpatay kung saan may mga nadamay nang mga bata. Pero sa halip na makinig at itigil, binalewala lang nila ito at lalong kinunsinte at pinatindi ang karahasan,” she said.
“Kaya sa mahigit tatlong taon nila sa puwesto, dumami pa ang mga batang pinagkaitan ng kinabukasan, mga ina at amang naglibing sa kanilang anak; mga pamilyang naulila ng malambing at masayahing kapatid at mahal sa buhay,” she added.
This 18th Congress, De Lima reintroduced her anti-EJK bill, logged as Senate Bill (SB) No. 371, seeking to define and provide for acts that constitute EJKs and strengthen the intervention and investigative functions of government agencies, including the Commission on Human Rights.
De Lima’s measure also proposes to make local chief executives and chief of police administratively liable if their communities experience a surge in EJK cases, except in communities beset by armed conflict. (30)