Families of desaparecidos
, or victims of enforced disappearances
, marked the observance of Holy Week in Manila with a "calvary of injustice." The event was highlighted by a "truth-telling session" that featured reflections on Jesus' last words, which participants related to the drug-related killings in the country. "Although victims, we choose to be Christ's presence on Earth," said Edita Burgos
, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos. Marylou dela Cruz told of the disappearance of her daughter who went missing in October 2017 after being suspected of involvement in the drug trade. The wife of a victim of a drug-related killing shared how she tried to refuse to accept the news that her husband was killed. "Even if he might have been involved in drugs, being sick, he should have been rehabilitated, and given the chance to reform himself," said Catherine Bacani. Holy Week protests
Earlier in the week, urban poor settlers staged Holy Week rallies to protest what they described as the deteriorating human rights situation. Among the issues they raised were the continuing execution of suspected drug users and dealers
, the passage of a new tax law, and the demolition of shanties in Manila slums. The protesters carried crosses to signify their suffering that they likened to that of Jesus. "We consider these crosses not just of our poor but of our entire country," said Sammy Gamboa of the Freedom from Debt Coalition. He said the crosses they carry were not created by any divine power "but by oppressive policies that skew toward and favor only the rich." Activist priest Robert Reyes said those responsible for the "extrajudicial killing" of Jesus have come to life in the present day. He likened Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the Pharisees during Jesus' time who were blinded by their lust for power and demanded the death of Christ.
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"[Duterte] is closer not to Pilate but to the chief priest of the scribes because he has put to death innocent people under his war on drugs," said the priest. Cardinal Tagle slams politics
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, meanwhile, warned priests to shun and fight "manipulative strategies" that sow division to serve political interests. During the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, the prelate noted that technological advancement in communication has been reduced to strategies to manipulate people. "Manipulation thrives in the context of disrespect," said Cardinal Tagle. "That's why fake news proliferates ... deliberately deceiving people," he added. He told priests who renewed their priestly vows to "put a stop to fake news." "We are not called and consecrated to bring fake news, only Good News especially through the integrity of our lives," said the Manila prelate. He said "evangelization happens in a covenant relationship not in a context where some see people as objects to be manipulated for one's purposes." The cardinal said proclaiming the Gospel requires "attentiveness" to human conditions, specifically to the poor and those who are suffering. "Many people don't listen to the Good News because they don't see it from the one talking," said Tagle as he urged priests to maintain their "integrity" as bearers of the Good News. He said Catholics these days "are looking for people of integrity whose words will match their action."