MANILA – Youth groups, human rights organizations and religious communities trooped to EDSA People Power Monument in Quezon City on Monday – the 34th anniversary of the airport murder of senator Ninoy Aquino – to call for an end to killings in the country.
“Sigaw ng taumbayan: itigil ang patayan!” they chanted during the protest dubbed “Himagsikan #JusticeForKian.”
The crowd was relatively small at 6 p.m., with ralliers fitting in the platform of the monument itself, as Tropical Storm Isang brought light rains.
Emcees noted how the death toll – 13,000 since President Duterte took power just over a year ago – had even surpassed the number of deaths attributed to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the country for 20 years, including nine years of martial law.
The number of killings, the protesters said, is so high it’s as if 1,000 people were being killed each month in one year.
The protest sought four things:
1. Itigil ang patayan [stop the killings]. Wakasan lahat ang [stop all] war on drugs operations.
2. Buksan ang impartial, credible at independent investigation hinggil sa mga patayan kaugnay sa war on drugs ni Duterte at maghain ng mga kasong kriminal laban sa mga napatunayang pumatay [Open an impartial, credible and independent investigation into the killings and file cases against those proven to have committed unjustified killings].
3. Ikondena ang paggamit ng karahasan at pagpatay bilang tanging paraan sa pagsugpo ng droga at sa halip ay magpatupad ng pamaraang may pagpapahalaga sa karapatang pantao at may pagtingin sa droga bilang usaping pangkalusugan [Condemn the use of violence and murder as the dictinct means for getting rid of illegal drugs, and instead use ways that have a respect for human rights and which view the illegal drugs problem as a health issue].
4. Panagutin ang Pangulo bilang pasimuno sa [Make the President accountable as the spearhead of the] war on drugs.
At 8:24 p.m., the protesters fell silent in tribute to Kian Delos Santos, the 17-year-old senior high school student who was killed in at around the same time on Wednesday in Caloocan City. Police said he had a gun and packets of shabu, and had resisted arrest, leading to his fatal shooting. But CCTV footage and witnesses revealed that Kian was apparently dragged by police to the spot where he was killed.
After the moment of silence ended, the people who attended the rally erupted in chants of “Hustisya, hustisya sa lahat ng biktima (Justice, justice for all the victims)!”
Youth representatives also delivered speeches one by one, including Shama Bulangis of Akbayan Youth.
“Wala po akong pamilya na namatay sa war on drugs, pero marami na akong kaibigan na nawala. At ang mga kaibigan ko pong ito ay walang kalaban-laban. Ang mga kaibigan ko pong ito, wala silang nagawa. Palagi nilang sinasabi na nanlaban, nanlaban, nanlaban! Naliligo nga lang siya! Naka-brief nga lang siya! Wala nga siyang dala! Ang sabi niyo, may dala siyang baril (I have no family members who died in the war on drugs, but I have many friends who are gone. And my friends could not fight back. My friends could do nothing. They always say they fought back, fought back, fought back! But my friend was just taking a bath! He was just in his briefs! He was not carrying anything! And you say, he was carrying a gun)?” she asked.
Watch her speech below.