The Arnold Janssen Kalinga Foundation has pledged ongoing assistance to the families of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK), assuring them that they will not travel the path to recovery alone.
According to Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD, the founder and president of the organization, their mission is to assist bereaved families in recovering from the sudden loss of their loved ones.
“Napakahalaga ng ginagawa nating pagbabalik ng labi ng mga mahal nila sa buhay na ninakaw ng biglaan…The healing continues and bringing home the urns of their loved ones plays a very critical role in that process of healing,” stated Fr. Villanueva in an interview with Radio Veritas.
The priest is acutely aware of the suffering of the afflicted families, who, six years after the murders, still await justice.
“During the wake, there was threat, there was trauma, and there was no trust made available for them, so that means they were unable to grieve,” the priest expressed.
Fr. Villanueva explained that the Daluyan sa Paghilom (Journey to Healing) under the SVD’s Arise sa Paghilom Program is the Church’s way of bringing the spirit of Christ’s love to the bereaved.
Fr. Villanueva initiated the Paghilom Program in 2016, following the launch of the war on drugs by former President Rodrigo Duterte. Program components include vetting and analysis, nine Saturdays of psycho-spiritual intervention, legal documentation, education and livelihood assistance for orphans and widows, capacity building for identified leaders, and Project Arise.
Project Arise entails the exhumation of corpses, autopsies conducted by forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun, the cremation of remains, their return to families, and the provision of dignified burial services.
“Hopefully, in three months, we will finalize the design and renovate the structure so that we can bury the urns in batches in a columbarium, thereby creating the first EJK memorial,” added Father Villanueva.
The cleric supports the International Criminal Court’s ongoing investigation into EJK in the country. According to data from human rights organizations, the number of victims is estimated to be around 30,000, which contradicts the Philippine National Police’s figure of 6,000.
“Makakamit natin yung katarungan kapag sinimulan nating hilumin ang ating sarili nariyan ang Diyos para tayo ay gabayan at tulungan sa healing,” Fr. Villanueva emphasized that God is present to guide and assist us in the healing process.
At the Sacred Heart Shrine Parish in Quezon City, Fr. Villanueva blessed the receptacles containing the cremated remains of six EJK victims.
Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, Marielle Geraedts, was present at the event and assisted in the transfer of the urns. (Luis Angelo Sta. Maria/Volunteer Writer/San Felipe Neri Parish | Photo from Facebook Page of Arnold Janssen Foundation)