The year 2016 was filled with many social justice activities. These are some in the local community Tahanan.
The year began with the Tahanan’s involvement in the education/awareness campaign for one good vote. I initiated and volunteered to educate the voters of San Andres in choosing the right candidates for the local and national May elections. I spoke in Sunday Masses and went to various corners of the place to do this advocacy work. When May elections came I was part of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) of Sagrada Familia parish. In this activity I worked with the women in Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) and Parish Youths whom I accompany. Despite the massive education campaign the results were favorable for those candidates who are not good as a result of rampant vote buying in the area.
When Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential elections, the war on drugs was launched. San Andres’s first case was July 2016. When the death toll rose I felt the need to do something against it. I searched for a group that protests against the killings and joined ‘Stop the Extra Judicial Killings Network’. I became one of the signatories and convenor of the network. Together with the other local persons I went to different parishes and some schools and explained the advocacy. Out of seven parishes in the Holy Family vicariate only three parishes responded to the call to have a candle lighting activity as protest at the inhumane killings. Last September Sagrada Familia parish expressed the protest through a Eucharistic celebration followed by candle lighting, and the families of the victims were present.
The killings continued. After every killing, together with the BEC women, I visited and consoled the family. Short term psychological assistance was provided to the bereaved family and this supported them in their cry for justice. At first the families were eager to seek justice but because of threats and fears they stopped the process and leave it to God. Out of twenty victims, six men were killed through mistaken identity while the rest who were just users and small time pushers and runners were killed while begging for their lives.
RCAM’s response to the drug issues is through ‘Sanlakbay’. It is a spiritual journey of drug surrenderers toward healing, restoration and rehabilitation – a preventive program of the restorative justice ministry of Caritas Manila.
Information dissemination was done in every corner of San Andres regarding this parish based rehabilitation center. This is RCAM’s way to support the government’s war on drugs and a humane response to treat those persons who are involved.
We encouraged drug users, runners and pushers to come to us and be helped but still only fifteen sought help in secret.
Debriefing was not enough for the families of Extra Judicial Killings victims, so I gathered them on 30 December 2016 just to let them vent their grief. It was a positive event for the nine family members who came. They were able to share their grief and they decided to make it regular and became a support system for each other.
Weekly gospel reflection and monthly formation of BEC and youths are coupled with conscientization. We also participated in signature campaigns
Submitted by Sr. Nenet R. Dano, rgs