Robredo assures families of EJK victims: ‘My door is always open’

Published October 21, 2021, 2:10 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo has promised families of extrajudicial killings (EJK) that she and her office will help them in every way they can as she attended the blessing and turnover of the cremated remains of some of the victims.

Vice President Leni Robredo attends the blessing and turnover of the cremated remains of some EJK victims in Manila on October 20, 2021. (OVP)

The Vice President participated the socially distant turnover rites to share in the grief of the families of the EJK victims on Wednesday, October 20.

“Nandito lang po ako, nandito lang iyong aking opisina. Kapag may kailangan—kahit pa kailangan lang ng kakuwentuhan, bukas na bukas po iyong aming pinto sa inyong lahat (I am just here, my office is here. If you need anything—even just to talk, our doors are always open to you all),” she said.

Robredo, who is running as president in 2022, asked the families of the EJK victims not to lose hope and to live better lives despite the loss of their loved ones.

“Parang iyon na din iyong alay natin sa kanila: na kahit wala na sila dito ay siniguro ninyo na iyong mga naiwan nila ay napapangalagaan (That can be our offer to them: even though they are not with us anymore, you are still taking care of what and who they left behind),” Robredo added.

The remains of the extrajudicial killings were buried in different public cemeteries in Metro Manila but were recently exhumed since the five-year lease on their graves lapsed. The Project Paghilom, however, facilitated the cremation of the said remains and purchased urns so their loved ones can take them home.

This was made possible by the Society of the Divine Word – JPIC (Justice-Peace Integrity of Creation) Office of the Central Province.

Father Flavie Villanueva, the center’s founder and director and who made news when he washed the feet of the orphans of EJK victims in 2018, was in attendance.

Robredo graced the blessing and turnover of the cremated remains on the same day the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the findings of its drug war review showing lapses in the conduct of police operations.

READ: ICC may use data on 52 cases on deaths in drug war operations – DOJ Usec. Sugay

Robredo and President Duterte had good relations during the start of the latter’s term as she was named head of the country’s housing agency.

But when the spate of killings in the name of the war on drugs campaign started, Robredo criticized the government and ended up becoming the target by not only Duterte but his millions of supporters.

She had a 18-day stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) before Duterte fired her for wanting reports on the different police operations.

Since then, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has been partnering with civil society groups in providing various interventions for families who lost their loved ones to EJKs.

Duterte’s drug war policy has led to the deaths of more than 8,000 people although human rights groups said the number could go as high as 30,000.

READ: Erring persons to be held accountable in drug war ‘review’, Duterte tells UN