24 November Indigenous Women’s Action to Protect Manicani Island

Ang indigenous women ay nakakaranas ng iba’t ibang porma ng karahasan bilang babae, at bilang katutubong kababaihan. Kaya’t nangangailangan na kumilos at magpahayag ng kanilang mga partikular na nararanasang karahasan; at ipakita ang kanilang kahandaan na kumilos at maki-isa sa malawakang pagtutol sa karahasan at magtanggol ng karapatan ng kababaihan.

Katutubong babae rin – Tutol sa karahasan!

Lumalaban para sa kalikasan! Nagtatanggol ng Karapatan!

#KamiRin   #KatutubongBabaeRin

Ang mga katutubong kababaihan ay may suot na maskara na kulay lila, kagya ng maskara ng Mamamayan Ayaw sa Karahasan. . .  kasi may mga katutubong kababaihan na hindi pa rin handang lumantad sa publiko, pero handang kumilos, kaya may maskara. Pero sa dulo ng programa, mag-aalis ang ilan ng maskara, para ipakita ang kanilang kahandaan.

Martsa mula sa NHA patungong DENR kung saan nagkakampo ang mga residente ng Manicani may ilang linggo na rin. Ito ay pagpapahayag ng pakiki-isa sa pinaglalaban ng mga kababaihan ng Manicani – Kami Rin ay ayaw sa minahan; Kami Rin ay lumalaban para sa Kalikasan; Kami rin ay Nagtatanggol ng Karapatan.

Programa

4:30 PM – Assembly time NHA

5:00 PM– March to Manicani Camp/ DENR

5:30 PM – Start of program

*Salubong (Key leaders ng tribes at Manicani women)

*Welcome message: Manicani women

*Rationale

*Messages: Indigenous Women speak about the different forms of violence against indigenous women

Eight Years of Frustrated Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims

Andal Ampatuan. Photo credit: The Telegraph

PRESS STATEMENT

23 November 2017

Passionist Center for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Inc. (PC-JPIC)
St. Paul of the Cross Pastoral Center
Old Novitiate Compound, National Highway, General Santos City
Contact person : Fr. Rey Carvyn P. Ondap, CP (0908-624-3330) / +1 (832)620-9826

How does one put in the various stages of grief eight years of waiting for justice for the families of the victims Maguindanao Massacre?

Should one still be shocked that the wheels of justice for this case continues to grind ever so slow when there is already a dedicated Judge to hear this case week-in week-out, but it appears she is no match for the bully defense counsels of the Ampatuans, epitomized by no-less than the Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo who boasted to a foreign journalist he “packs” like an 18-year old and while he left as counsel around 2015, lawyers with a demeanor like him remain to this day as guardians of the basic rights of the accused Ampatuan Clan and their minions.

Or perhaps denial should still be the order of the day, given that such an event may be a collective nightmare and while it put the Philippines on top of the global list of countries hazardous to working journalists, hey, the passage of time truly blurs the jarring impact of such dastardly acts on the Filipino subconscious now, eight years after the event.

Anger is there still, it cannot be denied, and it actually boils up every now and then, especially when one of the supposed champion of the victims and their families, Atty. Harry Roque, of Center Law, who nearly threw the case away because he championed the early release of some lesser-known to equally-culpable perpetrators who will then have the capability to cause personal harm to the remaining families, now regularly pops up on radio, TV and social media, and he does not appear to have any concrete proposal to President Duterte his boss, how this case may be speeded up in its resolution.

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Pastoral Training on Human Sexuality Education and HIV/AIDS

16 November 2017

Dear fellow youth ministers,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus!

We would like to invite you once more to this formative opportunity offered to us by the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Health Care: a training on human sexuality and HIV for youth leaders this

November 29-December 01 at St. Camillus Pastoral Health Center, 18 Nicanor Reyes St., Varsity Hills Subdivision, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

This workshop–training aims to mainstream  v​alues-based Human Sexuality Education and HIV/AIDS amongst youth programs in organizations and parishes.

The registration, food and accommodation will be shouldered by CBCP-ECHC–Camillians, while the participants take care of their transportation to and from the venue.

We hope to hear from you about this at most by Monday, November 27, through emailing to us the Reply Form – HIVAids Training. (Just click to download.)

with the names of your endorsed participants.  We earnestly hope that your youth ministries will be able to accommodate this invitation in response to this urgent call to educate our young people towards HIV and AIDS prevention.

Also, since the invitation is limited to 30 persons, we will receive your registration on a “first come-first serve” basis.

Should there be further questions, please feel free to reply to this email.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Fr. CONEGUNDO B. GARGANTA
Executive Secretary
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
Episcopal Commission On Youth

Ipagbawal ang Pagmimina sa Isla ng Manicani

Photo credit: Msgr. Bernie Pantin

Pahayag ng Pagsuporta Ng Urban Poor Alliance (UP-All) Mega Manila sa Protect Manicani Island, Inc. (PROMISI)

Kaisa ng PROMISI ang Urban Poor Alliance–Mega Manila (UP-ALL Mega Manila), isang alyansa ng mga people’s organizations at NGOs na nagsusulong ng reporma sa sektor ng pabahay para sa mga maralitang tagalungsod, sa panawagang hindi dapat i-renew ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ang panibagong aplikasyon para sa 25-taóng Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) ng Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC).

Naniniwala kaming mapanganib para sa isang maliit na islang tulad ng Manicani ang pagmimina, at nakita na natin sa mga nakalipas na panahon, noong operational pa ang mga minahan sa isla, ang matinding epekto ng pagmimina sa kapaligiran ng isla at sa ugnayan ng mga magkakapamilya.

Naniniwala rin kaming ihihiwalay ng pagmimina ang mga tao sa kanilang pangunahing kabuhayan. Aagawin ng minahan ang mga lupang tinataniman ng mga magsasaka, at dudumihan nito ang karagatang pinapangisdaan ng mga taga-Manicani. At sa pagkawala ng kanilang kabuhayan, gutom at kahirapan ang daranasin ng mga taga- Manicani. Hindi pa sila lubusang nakababangon mula sa iniwang pinsala ng Super Bagyong Yolanda; nawa’y hindi na madagdagan pa ang kanilang paghihirap ng panibagong banta ng pagmimina.

Hindi maitatangging maraming likas-yaman ang Pilipinas, ngunit ang paglinang sa mga ito ay hindi dapat magdulot ng pinsala sa kapaligiran at sa buhay mga tao. Tungkulin ng lahat na pangalagaan ang mga biyayang ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Poong Lumikha, at tinutupad ito ng mga kasapi ng PROMISI, alang-alang sa kasalukuyan at susunod pang henerasyon sa Manicani. Nawa’y gampanan din ng pamahalaan, sa pangunguna ng DENR, ang tungkuling ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtiyak na hindi na muling masisira ng pagmimina ang isla ng Manicani.   Continue reading

In Other Words: Information on the Impeachment Complaint Against Chief Justice Sereno

Photo credit: Manila Bulletin

The government is composed of three branches – executive, legislature and judiciary –which are co-equal and independent from each other. Each branch serves as a check on possible abuses of power or unwise action. It is only right that the Supreme Court, as the third branch under the Constitution, maintain its independence from the two other branches of government to achieve the constitutionally designed structure of checks and balance.

It is enshrined in the Constitution that the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court may be removed from office through impeachment on the basis of specific and serious valid grounds. These grounds are treason, bribery, graft and corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust. These grounds cover offenses of enormous gravity that they strike at the very life or orderly working of government. Therefore, because of its deep implications, the process of impeachment should never be abused or misused to serve partisan or political ends.

If we take a closer look at the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, it is clear that the allegations do not constitute impeachable offenses. The complaint, which is based on hearsay and uses disrespectful language, was designed to malign and distract the Chief Justice from the performance of her duties. The following are the CJ’s answers to the allegations, which the complainant and his supporters in the House of Representatives try to twist to appear infallible.

1.   Complaint: The CJ has alleged hidden wealth, which she failed to declare in her SALN. She also allegedly failed to settle the taxes from her earnings when she stood as counsel for the government from 2004-2008.

a.   The Chief Justice was engaged to help defend the country from the cases filed by Fraport and PIATCO, who claimed a combined total of US$ 990,000,000 plus interest and lost profits against the PHL Government in connection with the NAIA Terminal 3 Project. The Chief Justice earned around US$ 594,000 from nearly five years of hard work to help the country win the two international cases.

b.   All earnings from the cases were reported by then Atty. Sereno in her ITRs and she fully paid the required taxes of approximately Php 8.67 million or 32% of taxable income.

c.   She did not earn US$745,000 or Php 37 million, as alleged in the Complaint. Before deducting taxes, the Chief Justice’s peso equivalent earnings from the two cases amounted to around PhP 30.3 million. The remaining amount after taxes has been spent over time for various asset acquisitions (house, lot, furniture and improvements, personal effects) and investments; these are all reflected in the CJ’s current SALN. The rest went to the family’s tithes, offerings, living, medical, and other operating expenses.

d.   It cannot be said that the legal fees paid to her by government were excessive. In fact, it was relatively small compared to the amount paid to her foreign counterparts. Needless to say, the legal fees she received was only a small portion of the US$6 million awarded to government after she helped it win the case.

e.   All earnings, tax payments, and asset acquisitions from the remainder of her fees occurred prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court. This issue has no factual basis and has no place in an impeachment complaint

2.  Complaint: The CJ’s purchase of an expensive service vehicle was allegedly illegal and extravagant.

a.   The purchase of the vehicle was in conformity with government procurement process and policy. It was not the CJ, but the Supreme Court which bought the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser. The purchase of this vehicle, including its price, was duly authorized and approved by the Supreme Court En Banc. (Resolution dated 28 March 2017 in A.M. No. 17-03-06-SC, approved the acquisition for the price of P5,110,500.00). The policy includes the choice of vehicle that would provide protection for the highest judicial official of the land (Section 3.1 of DBM Administrative Order No. 233 issued in 2008; Section 2.2 of DBM Budget Circular No. 2010-2). In other words: the purchase of the security vehicle was not illegal and extravagant.

b.   Since her appointment to the High Court in 2010, the CJ used old service vehicles used by retired SC justices. Improvisations were made by installing a bullet proof blanket inside these vehicles and occasionally wearing a bullet proof vest that was given to her by her husband as a gift.

3.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly lives a luxurious and extravagant life. An example of this was her staying in a “presidential villa” in Boracay.

a.   The “presidential villa” in Shangri-la Boracay had already been paid for as meeting room and official photos venue for the 10 ASEAN chief justices. The court-approved budget specifically included the use of the villa to be used as the “function space” (with a boardroom setup) for the whole-day meeting of the 10 chief justices. Instead of booking additional rooms, the CJ, her staff and part of the secretariat were allowed to spend two nights in the presidential villa without additional charges. In other words, the CJ actually saved public funds by using the villa.

b.   The choice of Boracay as the venue for the event was not based on the CJ’s whims and caprices. Boracay was the unanimous choice among ASEAN chief justices since it was also where most of the ASEAN meetings were being held. Security-wise, it was the most appropriate venue for the meeting of the ASEAN chief justices. Shangri-La Boracay was chosen because it was the only resort that offers the right facilities and capabilities to secure those attending the high-level meeting.

c.  The SC En Banc approved a Pph2.6 million budget for the meeting. The complete details of the budget are contained in the proposal submitted by the CJ, including the Boracay package. Two points are worth noting on the issue of “presidential villa”:
first, the use of the “presidential villa” was approved by all SC justices, and second, the villa was intended for a high-level meeting, and not for “extravagant and luxurious” sleepover.

4.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly ordered Muntinlupa RTC judges not to issue warrants of arrest against Senator Leila de Lima.

a.   The CJ never ordered any judge to not issue warrants of arrest against Senator De Lima. In other words, this allegation was just a figment of the imagination. This is a clear “fake news” that is meant to vilify the CJ.

b.   The Chief Justice does not interfere with the decision-making process of lower courts.

5.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly falsified a resolution on the implementation of the Regional Court Administrative Office in Region 7 (RCAO 7).

The resolution issued by the CJ in connection with the implementation of RCAO-7 went through the proper procedure. Until this time, the SC En Banc has not withdrawn the resolution issued by the CJ. In other words, the resolution was not fake and not illegal.

a.   It is also worth noting that the RCAO was created by the SC in 2008 when CJ was not yet with the High Court. It was also in that year when the SC decided to grant the CJ the authority to implement the RCAO.

6.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly falsified a resolution on a case involving COMELEC.

a.   One of the powers vested on the CJ is the authority to issue TROs when the SC is not in session. In other words, there is no truth to the allegation that she falsified her own TRO.

b.   Two SC justices submitted their recommendation in relation to the TRO. One was Justice De Castro, who was assigned to the case and the other was Justice Reyes, who happened to be handling a similar case. Remember: WHAT THE TWO JUSTICES GAVE WERE ONLY RECOMMENDATIONS, AND UNDER THE RULES, THE CHIEF JUSTICE IS NOT OBLIGATED TO FOLLOW THESE RECOMMENDATIONS.

Nevertheless, the CJ decided to issue a TRO – which was also recommended by Justice Reyes – after a careful review of the case.

7.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly falsified the resolution “directing” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to submit a complaint affidavit against four trial court judges.

a.   There was no resolution “directing” the Executive Secretary. What the SC issued was a resolution “inviting” authorities to file a complaint and provide further information against the judges. In other words, this allegation twisted the details and circumstances surrounding this particular case.

b.   There is only one version of the said resolution, and it was signed by all the SC justices. However, the SC Public Information Office (PIO) released a draft in which the word used was “direct,” instead of “invite.”

c.   The PIO has been accustomed to releasing parts of the SC rulings and voting results, although these were not yet signed by the justices. In this particular case, the draft had already been announced by the PIO when Justice Carpio proposed to replace the word “direct” with “invite.” The proposal was seconded by other justices, and it was the final version that had the signature of the justices.

8.   Complaint: The CJ allegedly manipulated and sat on the resolution of request of DOJ Secretary Aguirre

a.   The SC raffle sheet clearly showed that the case was assigned to the CJ. In other words, the allegation that she took away the case from Justice Tijam is false.

b.   The CJ also did not delay the resolution and did only the right thing. She coordinated with the DOJ, AFP and PNP because the choice of detention facility for members of the Maute group had national security implications.

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Summary of Answers on the Impeachment Complaint Vs. Chief Justice Sereno

Issue (Gadon’s Complaint) Answer

(of the Chief Justice)

 

 

 

SALN and taxes

·       The Chief Justice was engaged to help defend the country from the cases filed by Fraport and PIATCO, who claimed a combined total of US$ 990,000,000 plus interest and lost profits against the PHL Government in connection with the NAIA Terminal 3 Project. The Chief Justice earned around US$ 594,000 from nearly five years of hard work to help the country win the two international cases.

·       The Chief Justice reported all her earnings from the case in her ITRs and fully paid the required taxes thereon. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in fact, deducted withholding taxes and certified to the BIR all amounts paid to then Atty. Sereno for legal services rendered from 2003-2008.

·       She did not earn US$745,000 or Php 37 million, as alleged in the Complaint. Before deducting taxes, the Chief Justice’s peso equivalent earnings from the two cases amounted to around PhP 30.3 million. The remaining amount after taxes of approximately Php 8.67 million, has been spent over time for various asset acquisitions (house, lot, furniture and improvements, personal effects) and investments; these are all reflected in the CJ’s current SALN. The rest went to the family’s tithes, offerings, living, medical, and other operating expenses.

·       All earnings, tax payments, and asset acquisitions from the remainder of her fees occurred prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court.

·       This issue has no factual basis and has no place in an impeachment complaint.

 

 

Security vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser

·       Judges, lawyers and prosecutors have been assassinated. It is in keeping with security protocol that the highest judge of the land be protected in a security vehicle. The DBM, in fact, expressly recognizes the necessity and reasonability of purchasing such a security vehicle for the Chief Justice (Section 3.1 of DBM AO No. 233 issued in 2008; Section 2.2 of DBM Budget Circular No. 2010-2)

·       The purchase of this vehicle, including its price, was duly authorized and approved by the Supreme Court En Banc. (Resolution dated 28 March 2017 in A.M. No. 17-03-06-SC, approved the acquisition of the Land Cruiser for the price of P5,110,500.00)

·       As impeachment complainant-endorser Congressman Nograles himself said, the purchase was legal.

·      The performance of a legal act has no place in an impeachment complaint

 

 

 

Business class travel and foreign trips

·      The SC rules recognize the necessity of allowing the Chief Justice to travel by business class, in recognition of her position and the need to provide her with the resources to ensure that she is fully prepared for all her international and speaking engagements. Considering her work load, she does not allot days to rest upon arrival in a foreign country before plunging into work.

·      The Supreme Court En Banc approved the Supreme Court Human Resource Manual through A.M. No. 00-6-1-SC dated 31 January 2012, or

before the Chief Justice assumed her position

·      Section II.A.1, Chapter Twelve of the Human Resource Manual, provides that “(f)oreign travel of Justices or Judges and court personnel must

be duly approved by the Chief Justice and/or the Chairpersons of the Divisions.” All travels and related expenses properly went through the established approval process

·      Under its Rule XII-19, II.B.6.b, the Chief Justice is allowed to travel on “full business class”. (This rule was recently amended to benefit all

members of the Supreme Court.)

·       All trips are made in pursuit of official court business to further judicial reform, systems development and ASEAN, Asia-Pacific and other

international judicial relations.

·       The Chief Justice is very prudent in handling the court’s resources. She does not allow junkets of any kind for all her delegations.

·       All the members of her delegation have specific roles to play in the official trips. Some are fellow justices, judges and senior court officials.

·       In most of her trips, she brought as aide only her chief of staff. Bringing an aide allowed her to continue performing her functions as head of

the Judiciary, the Judicial and Bar Council, the Justice Sector Coordinating Council, the Constitutional Fiscally Autonomous Agencies of Government, and chair of the Philippine Judicial Academy, even while abroad. In two of her trips, she brought no aide at all and this had a negative impact on her efficiency.

·       Foreign travels (and related travel expenses) for court staff do not have to be approved by the Supreme Court En Banc

·       The CJ’s travel by business class is appropriate to her position, are all perfectly legal, and have no place in an impeachment complaint

 

 

 

Use of presidential villa

·       The presidential villa in Shangri-la Boracay had already been paid for as meeting room and official photos venue for the 10 ASEAN Chief Justices. It was where the important Boracay Accord of the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting was signed.

·       The Philippines hosted the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting in 2015. The Supreme Court En Banc approved a Php2.6 million budget for the meeting. The Court-approved budget specifically included the use of the “presidential villa” to be used as the “Function Space” (with a “Boardroom” setup), for a “Whole Day Meeting” of the ten Chief Justices.

·       Instead of booking additional rooms, the Chief Justice, her staff and part of the secretariat were allowed to spend the nights of March 1 and 2 in the presidential villa with no additional charges.

·       By using the presidential villa, the Chief Justice actually saved public funds. It is noteworthy that the Resort charged PhP 134,192.00 for the use of the “Presidential Villa” (and not the regular rate of Php280,000.00).

·       Being cost conscious and ensuring an appropriate hosting for ten Chief Justices constitutes no kind of offense, much less an impeachable offense.

·       The Chief Justice made use of the venue as sleeping quarters to spare the Court from incurring additional expenses for separate accommodations for her and her staff/security.

 

 

 

Petitions for Retirement benefits

·       The Chief Justice has no power to decide on petitions for retirement benefits. All decisions must be made by the Court En Banc.

·       What the complainant falsely assumes is that the Chief Justice is responsible for so-called delays in processing retirement claims. As with any personnel claim, the processing of retirement claims involves several levels of review (the Office of the Court Administrator, the Special Retirement Committee, the technical working group that reports to the committee and the Court En Banc.)

·       The Chief Justice does not participate in any of these levels of review except as one of 15 voting Members of the Court.

·       There has been much improvement in the review and evaluation systems for retirement requests, resulting in more consistent policy rulings by the Court.

·       Systems reform and improvement programs are not bases for an impeachment complaint. Systems inefficiency, if any, in the processing of retirement benefits is not an impeachable offense.

Deadly Philippine drug war wages on social media

Bishop, award-winning priest take on internet trolls in bid to combat killings in Duterte’s narcotics campaign

Argentinean Father Luciano Ariel Felloni of Novaliches Diocese accepts the 2017 Social Media Influencer of the Year at the 3rd Catholic Social Media Awards in Manila. (Photo by Joe Torres)

UCAN Joe Torres, Manila Philippines November 21, 2017

A Catholic bishop in Manila and an Argentinean priest in an urban poor community in the Philippine capital are using social media to draw attention to drug-related killings in the country.

Father Luciano Ariel Felloni of Novaliches Diocese said that through social media he was able to explain the contribution of the church in the government’s war against narcotics.

The priest, who is known for his “healing not killing” community-based rehabilitation program for drug addicts, was named “Social Media Influencer of the Year” at the 2017 Catholic Social Media Awards.

Father Felloni is one of several church leaders who have become the target of online criticism because of their vocal opposition to the killings of suspected drug users and dealers.

“By using social media to explain that our work has no political color, and that it is our contribution to the war against drugs, people change their opinion, they understand,” said the priest.

He added, however, that trolls are different. “They are paid to attack,” said the priest.

“Ignore the trolls, it’s obvious that they are fake,” said the priest. He emphasized, however, that people of other opinions should also be heard.

A “troll” is internet slang for somebody who sows discord by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community.

In a discussion at the 6th Catholic Social Media Summit before the awards night on Nov. 18, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said so-called trolls shoot the messenger and ignore the message.

Suspected trolls have been attacking Catholic Church leaders who have been vocal against the government’s war on drugs. Bishops and priests have been accused corruption and sex abuses.

“The truth hurts,” said Bishop David, “but it sets the people free.”

Both Father Felloni and Bishop David said that instead of shying away from the so-called trolls and those who attack the church online, Catholics must look at it as an opportunity.

“If you don’t react to these statements, soon they become like Gospel truth,” said the prelate. “Truth has become a more serious concern in the context of so much untruth in things that we hear or read.”

“Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated,” said Bishop David, adding that online bashing will always be there but good work must continue “because people are interested in the truth.”

He said he uses social media to correct “ soundbites that are quickly accepted if they are not corrected.” The prelate said the result is “death of the conscience” if a lie is accepted as truth.

“As a church leader, I would feel amiss in my leadership if I allow the consciences of people to die,” Bishop David told about 600 mostly young people, who attended the social media summit.

The prelate said that through the use of social media people responded to his diocese’s program for the poor, including the families of victims of extrajudicial killings.

“God works also through social media. That’s also a forum for truth and empathy,” he said. “That’s what empathy is also about. It leads to compassion.”

Mum seeks poetic justice for son slain in drug war

Normita Lopez touches a photograph of her slain 23-year-old son, Djastin, during a Mass to remember victims of the government’s drug war killings in the country. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Normita Lopez takes to writing verse in her fight to bring the Filipino policemen who killed her son to account

Inday Espina-Varona, Manila   UCAN Philippines  November 16, 2017

Normita Lopez has a dream and she has written it down as a poem for her 23-year-old son Djastin, one of the thousands slain in the Philippine government’s war against illegal drugs.

The poem is both a plea to God for justice and a pledge to her son who was killed next to railroad tracks in Manila’s urban poor district of Tondo.

“Before my eyes close in this life, may your killers be brought to justice, my child,” Normita writes in her elegy to her son who died on Sept. 20.

She wrote the poem while listening to a group of tribal people from the southern Philippines who shared their own experiences of killings and persecution.

“I was listening to them. Someone asked if I wanted to speak,” sad Normita, who has since become a member of Rise Up for Life and Justice, a group of families of drug war victims and their supporters.

“I was suddenly filled with an urge to write,” the mother of nine told ucanews.com on Oct. 31, the eve of All Saints’ Day and the start of two days of remembering the dead in the Philippines.

At least a hundred people filled the San Isidro Labrador Church in a northern Manila parish that has seen 50 residents killed in just over a year.

It was the first attempt at poetry for Normita, who wrote the lines on her mobile phone.

Written in Tagalog, the language of the Philippine capital, the poem starts as every mother’s story, with memories of excitement over a wanted pregnancy, the joy of her son’s birth, and the milestones in his life.

What followed were dark days that came with President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to rid the country of drug dealers and addicts.

“In one blink, they took my son’s life, the son I love and will never embrace again,” Normita wrote.

“I will never see his smile again, will never hear his jokes, and the laughter that filled our house.”

She talked to her son, asking him to wait for their reunion in the afterlife. She talked to God, appealing that He grants her the grace to join Djastin when her time on Earth is up.

The poem ends with her prayer for justice.

Normita’s poem was passed from one mother to another, setting off tears among all those who attended the gathering.

Other mothers and fathers, wives and daughters and sons, and the human rights volunteers who work daily with the families of the victims, wept and hugged each other throughout the celebration of the Mass.

Father Gilbert Billena, parish priest of the host community, encouraged the families to find the courage to fight back.

“There is no law in this country and certainly, no law of God, that allows killings, especially of the defenseless and the innocent,” said the priest in his homily.

“Let us fight the scourge of illegal drugs, but not through killing,” he added.

The priest later told ucanews.com that rehabilitation programs, social services and employment for the poor who are forced into the narcotics trade “are the answers to the problem, but never killings.”

Normita noted a contradiction in the police report on her son’s death.

The report said Djastin was killed resisting arrest during a “drug-bust” operation. Later, the police issued another report, claiming the young boy was arrested for the killing of another resident.

“He was an epileptic,” Normita said of her son. “He was frail. How could he be a killer?”

Witnesses said the police who accosted Djastin beat him up before shooting him.

More than 3,000 people have been allegedly killed in “legitimate” anti-narcotics police operations since Duterte took power in 2016.

Thousands more have been slain in what police labeled as “deaths under investigation,” a category that includes what authorities describe as “vigilante killings.”