ESCALANTE CITY - Fr. Robert Reyes, the running priest, led the run against extra-judicial killings here, at about 6:30 a.m. yesterday, in commemoration of the 65 th International Human Rights Day.
About 100 participants composed of families of victims of extra-judicial killings, members of the Partido Lakas ng Masa, with their national secretary general, Leody de Guzman, and other activist parties in Bacolod City, joined the run that started at the boundary of Escalante.
It ended with a program in front of the Escalante City Hall where 28 alleged extra-judicial killings have happened since 2007, during the incumbency of Mayor Melecio Yap.
Reyes said the event, called “A run for human rights and direct democracy”, symbolizes the uphill battle for human rights not only in Escalante, but in the Philippines.
Families of the victims should have the endurance to continue the battle, and also the media to have the endurance in pursuit of the truth, he said.
Reyes said he expects that justice for the extra-judicial killings in the city will be delivered soon, and that it was quite disappointing in both local and national politics, that politicians are doing things only to defend themselves, to maintain self-empowerment.
The battle for justice is not only a fight for human rights but a fight for genuine and direct democracy of the ordinary Filipino, Reyes said.
“Power is a privilege given to a citizen, who is perceived by majority to be capable to lead and inspire people, unfortunately, many of our leaders neither lead nor inspire, but threaten and are feared by people,” he said.
Reyes, who appealed to Mayor Yap and the city council to be servant leaders, said they must be poor leaders with their poor people, eat what they eat, live in their houses, walk in their muddy streets, cut sugarcane, go hungry with them, experience the fear at many of them have felt because there is Martial Law, informal though it may be, in Escalante.
He also said that there is always an opportunity given to everybody to be genuine leaders, who are not to be served but to be leaders serving others.
Yap, meanwhile, told the DAILY STAR that if people want justice, he also wants it for them and for everybody.
I am the mayor of this city, so why should I put it in chaos? ”, Yap said.*SGG