Memorial hall for ‘Tokhang’ victims to rise in Caloocan

Ghio Ong, Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Memorial hall for �Tokhang� victims to rise in Caloocan
Also in attendance were forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun and the families of the so-called “Tokhang” victims.
Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Former vice president Leni Robredo and former senator Leila de Lima yesterday attended groundbreaking rites for a memorial dedicated to victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, at the La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan.

Also in attendance were forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun and the families of the so-called “Tokhang” victims.

The Dambana ng Paghilom memorial will be built on a 36-square-meter lot donated by the Diocese of Caloocan, featuring 600 vaults.

Robredo expressed hope that the families of the drug war victims would not lose hope despite the slow pace of justice.

She said the memorial is a symbol that “we will never again allow this culture of killing.”

De Lima, who is out on bail on her third and last drug case before a Muntinlupa court, declared that “without justice, there will be no genuine and complete healing.”

“We will continue to fight for justice and push the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the war on drugs of the Duterte administration, as well as hold his cohorts and enablers accountable,” she said.

De Lima declined to comment when asked what her role would be in the potential ICC probe.

The event was also attended by representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, officials of the embassies of the Netherlands and Germany as well as representatives of the church.

EJK victims

Meanwhile, Randy de los Santos, uncle of Kian de los Santos, expressed gratitude for the establishment of the memorial.

Kian’s case is one of the few in Duterte’s bloody campaign wherein the police officers responsible for the killing were convicted and sent to prison.

“We, the families of the victims of EJK, are grateful for the existence of this hall so that our loved ones can be laid to rest,” Randy said in Filipino.

Kian was 17 when he was killed by police.

Merlita de la Cruz, 62, told The STAR she was grateful that the memorial would be built so she could keep the urn containing the ashes of her son, Jinbilly.

Jinbilly was killed during an anti-narcotics operation in Tondo, Manila in April 2017.

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