Gathering support for the families affected by the “war on drugs” in the Philippines
While Filipinos cope and struggle with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “war on drugs,” which Amnesty International has argued is effectively a war on the poor, is ongoing. Injustices experienced by the poor under the Duterte regime don’t end with death by extrajudicial killings. Five years have passed since the launch of Duterte’s war on drugs, and many of the affected communities are retraumatized by grief, now compounded by the lack of capacity to afford the renewal of the grave leases of their loved ones whose lives were quickly ended by an unjust war.
"Kapag wala kang pera at hindi mo na kayang mabayaran (ang upa ng nitso), o wala nang kamag anak yung namatay na mag aaasikaso... aalisin yung buto tapos isasama na lang sa ibang mga buto ng tao, sa isang lugar na parang malaking balon. Doon mo nalang pwedeng tirikan ng kandila.
(If you really have no money, and if you’re unable to renew the lease of the grave, or if the victims don’t have kin to care for the grave, they would take out the bones from the niches and put them with other bones into a place which is like a well. It is by this mass grave that you can light your candle offering for the departed.)
Families could also opt to cremate the remains of loved ones after the exhumations, but cremation remains taboo in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. Families would hope to buy a private grave so that their departed will no longer face the threat of eviction during death, but the cost is prohibitive for the bereaved. For Nanay*, the cost of renewing the five-year leases of two tombs will amount to PhP10,000 while cremation will be at PhP 30,000. Being able to afford a private tomb for her husband and son is highly unlikely for Nanay*.
How You Can Help
The means for livelihood of families affected by the war on drugs are dampened even more by the pandemic. Their capacity to afford the renewal of the final resting place of their loved ones is looking more impossible with each passing day. The families victimized by the war who have been working with RESBAK in the last five years have expressed worries about losing their departed in anonymous mass graves. Dignity should be inherent to human life. People deserve respect, while living, and also in death.
Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings (RESBAK) is among the organizations that are at the forefront of raising awareness about the harms of ongoing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. RESBAK is composed of artists, academics, and members of the community affected by the drug war. To gather support for grieving families affected by the drug war, RESBAK has opened an online donation drive for those looking for ways to extend their pakikiramay in ways that would help ameliorate the families’ experience of enduring grief. Your donations will grant victims of an unjust war to at least have a final resting place and post-mortem dignity.
To help, cash donations can be made to the Pakikiramay Fund here on GoGetFunding, or the following:
- GCash at 09150172703
You may also support the RESBAK-supported initiatives listed below, 100% of proceeds of which go to the Pakikiramay Fund or are donated to mothers, widows, and orphans needing support.
- Order Jason Moss’s donated coloring book for adults
- Order Rene Villanueva’s storybooks for children (Link to follow)
- Order homemade bags and food products made by family members of the drug war
Learn More About RESBAK?
For inquiries, please email [email protected].