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Thousands gather on EDSA to condemn drug-related killings

Thousands joined the protest on EDSA Sunday which condemned the spate of killings in the country.

But the Palace welcomed the protests, saying they join the nation in “praying for healing.”

“As you know, we join the nation in praying for healing. And we do not see the gathering today at EDSA as a threat of any kind,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing Sunday.

Tindig Pilipinas, an opposition group of former officials of the Aquino administration and Liberal Party members, led the event joined by students, activists, and members of religious groups.

Earlier, at 3 p.m. around 150 family members of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings, as well as 2,000 others, attended the “Heal Our Land” mass at the EDSA Shrine.

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Archbishop Socrates Villegas was the main presider.

In his homily, Villegas condemned the killings.

He said the Philippines has turned into a country of apathetic Filipinos who seem indifferent to the series of murders in the government’s war against drugs.

Kapag hindi natin tinigil ang patayan, may sumpang parusa ang bayang pumapatay sa sariling kababayan,” he said.

[Translation: If we don’t stop the killings, the country will sanction those who kill their fellowmen.]

Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Antonio Trillanes, Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino, and Franklin Drilon also attended the mass.

After the mass, the group headed to the nearby People Power Monument to stage a protest.

Human rights groups estimate there are 13,000 extrajudicial killings in the country, while the police said there are only about 4,000 drug-related deaths.

Roque said the President had made it very clear that he does not support murder.

“He has ordered the police as I have mentioned over and over again to arrest the individuals, the policemen behind the killing of Kian, which is proof that the statement of the President, the policy of the President is that he will back up the police if the killing is a result of legal engagement and will order their arrest otherwise,” Roque said.

CNN Philippines’ Correspondents Makoi Popioco and Triciah Terada contributed to this report.

SOURCE: CNN

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