Remember the victims too

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There are so many days reserved for remembering, the most universal of which falls on 2 November, All Souls’ Day, when people from all walks of life remember loved ones who had gone into the great unknown.

The Philippines joined the World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims last 3 November 2017, an event that reminded motorists to drive responsibly.

On 24 November 2014, cause-oriented gay Filipinos observed Transgender Day of Remembrance to give respect to victims of hate and gender prejudice, including Jennifer Laude, the transgender Filipina killed by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

On 21 February 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 164 declaring 25 January of every year as a Day of National Remembrance for the 44 Special Action Force troopers killed in a clash with Muslim rebels and “private armies” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

On Wednesday, 15 August 2018, Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 848, which sought to declare every 16th of August as a “National Day of Remembrance” for Kian de los Santos and other alleged victims of the government’s drug war.

De los Santos was the 17-year-old boy alleged to have been executed by three Caloocan City policemen during an anti-illegal drugs operation on 16 August 2017. Commemorating his death anniversary, according to Hontiveros, is a way of rejecting and defying the killings.

To forget is to give consent to the killing, the senator said.

While the murder trial of the suspected killers of De los Santos ended last month, the case has yet to be decided by Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr.

Come judgment day, Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and PO1 Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz will either become the first cops to be convicted or to be acquitted in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs.

If the Senate approves the proposed National Day of Remembrance for Kian and other victims like him, the memorial will gain credibility if the officers are eventually convicted.

However, if Oares, Pereda and Cruz are acquitted, it will be inconsistent with the spirit of remembering the boy as a victim of police brutality or even summary execution. The officers had claimed the boy shot it out with them as he was being arrested for drug pushing.

An acquittal of the policemen may render the National Day of Remembrance for Kian a mere glorification of a purportedly young criminal, inspire others to emulate him, embolden meth manufacturers to produce more shabu, endanger the public and, worse, tag police officers doing their jobs as villains.

A National Day of Remembrance for Kian is also an insult to all victims who died in the hands of drug-crazed individuals. It is unfortunate that these victims have been forgotten as if their lives don’t matter.

Where is the National Day of Remembrance for Grace Omadlao, the 16-year-old girl from Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City raped and killed by four men in September last year? The suspects admitted being under the influence of drugs when they strangled Omadlao to death and dumped her body at a vacant lot in Villa Esguerra Homes, Centennial 2, Barangay Nagpayong.

That National Day of Remembrance for Omadlao should cover other similar victims like 22-year-old bank employee Mabel Cama who was raped, killed and her body burned in a garage in Rosario, Pasig City last 12 November 2017 by a truck driver who tested positive from shabu use upon his arrest.

It will also cover the 13-year-old girl from Naawan, Misamis Oriental raped and killed on 10 August 2017 by two teenagers who had been the subject of illegal drug complaints. The suspects, as old as Kian, reportedly lured the victim to go with them to a secluded area at Purok 1, Linangcayan village, where they allegedly raped and killed her.

While the parents and relatives of people killed by drug addicts are grieving in silence, the bleeding hearts like Hontiveros use the deaths of known drug personalities in grandstanding. Have we ever heard Hontiveros seek justice for those raped and killed by drug addicts? Her silence in pushing the cause of the real victims is deafening.

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