A diocese north of Manila, where many of the estimated 12,000 victims of drug-related killings were slain, staged a unique Christmas celebration this year with the families of those who died. Bishop Virgilio Pablo David of Kalookan said the gathering on Dec. 9 aimed to be part of the "spiritual healing" for families of the victims. "It really hurts to be a victim, it hurts more to continue to be a victim, but what is worst is if we lose all hope in humanity and let hatred take over us," said the prelate in his homily during a Mass. Bishop David, an outspoken critic of the government's deadly war on illegal drugs, thanked the families of the victims for attending the celebration. "We need to breathe deep and exhale that anger because violence breeds hatred in the hearts of those affected by violence," said the prelate. He said that as bishop it is his duty to bring together people willing to help the families of victims, whom the prelate called "survivors". "You are not victims but survivors, when there is still life there is still hope to start over again," the bishop told the gathering. Last week, Amnesty International
called on the International Criminal Court to start a preliminary examination of possible crimes against humanity regarding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Latest official data from the Philippine National Police shows that at least 3,933 people have been killed in police operations, while thousands have also been reported killed by vigilante groups.