Joseph Peter Calleja
Updated: October 21, 2021 11:11 AM GMT
Vice President Leni Robredo attends the blessing and turnover of the cremated remains of some drug war victims to their families in Manila, Philippines, on Oct. 20. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President)
Philippine opposition standard-bearer, Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, joined families of slain victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war as they received the cremated remains of their loved ones in a Manila parish on Oct. 20.
Robredo, who is running for the president’s office in 2022, attended the event on the invitation of Project Paghilom, spearheaded by staunch Duterte critic Father Flavie Villanueva, to bless and turn over seven urns to their families.
“The efforts [exhumation and cremation] are part of Project Paghilom’s mission of providing dignified, systematic and holistic care to widows and orphans who have fallen victims to the failed war on drugs of the Duterte administration,” Father Villanueva told UCA News.
Project Paghilom has shouldered the exhumation and cremation of remains of the drug war victims after the expiration of their rented graves as many families could not afford permanent graves, said Father Villanueva.
“After being killed, families who have succumbed to poverty and fear had to desperately search for money to pay for the funeral services and grave sites. How can a family whose net income is barely 250 pesos (US$5) a day afford 35,000 pesos (US$700) for a funeral service and another 35,000 pesos (US$700) for a decent grave site?” he asked.
Vice President Robredo assured the families that they would be given a source of income under her office. “Under our [AngatBuhay] program, my office will collaborate with civil society groups to help family members of the victims of the drug war,” Robredo said on Facebook.
Jesse Robredo was known for his heroic and simple leadership in his native town in Naga City in the Bicol region, south of Luzon
She further extended her condolences to the families of the victims and assured them that “the doors of the Office of the Vice President are open to give support to the loved ones of the drug war victims as they recover from this tragedy.”
Father Villanueva said Robredo’s presence provided a “comforting” atmosphere to the families present in the ceremony.
“The presence of our dear Vice President Madam Leni Robredo, who also tragically lost her loved one, provided a comforting atmosphere in the solemn healing for prayer service and ritual,” Father Villanueva told UCA News.
He was referring to the death of the vice president’s husband, former Aquino cabinet member Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash.
Jesse Robredo was known for his heroic and simple leadership in his native town in Naga City in the Bicol region, south of Luzon.
“VP Leni mirrored how it is to be father, who bravely stands with the weak, and a mother, who offers a soothing comfort during one’s most difficult moments,” Father Villanueva added.
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