Liv­ing among the dead in the Philip­pine drug war US stops Philip­pines ri­fle sale

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In a small mau­soleum in Manila’s largest ceme­tery, Ju­dith Castell and her fam­ily get ready for an­other night next to the graves of her hus­band and her mother-in-law. The ceme­tery has been Castell’s home for 40 years and where she first met her hus­band, Em­manuel, who was killed in a po­lice drug-bust op­er­a­tion in Septem­ber as part of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s war on drugs. “I re­ally can’t ac­cept what hap­pened, that he would sud­denly dis­ap­pear. I re­al­ize that it’s hard. It’s like los­ing a hand and a foot,” Castell, 47 said. Castell said she is a sup­porter of Duterte but hopes po­lice will stop in­dis­crim­i­nate killings that have seen al­most 2,300 peo­ple killed since he took of­fice less than four months ago.

The widow, who lives with more than 20 mem­bers of her fam­ily, makes a liv­ing tend­ing to tombs and graves in the 54-hectare ceme­tery, where an es­ti­mated 10,000 peo­ple live among the dead. Castell nor­mally makes about 100 pe­sos ($2) a day tend­ing the graves, but ex­pected to earn up to 5,000 pe­sos ($110) yes­ter­day, with Filipinos flock­ing to the ceme­tery for All Saints Day, a Ro­man Catholic hol­i­day which pays homage to saints. “He’s gone and we can’t do any­thing about it. I still have to help feed my fam­ily,” she said.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, the US State Depart­ment halted the planned sale of some 26,000 as­sault ri­fles to the Philip­pines’ na­tional po­lice af­ter Se­na­tor Ben Cardin said he would op­pose it, Se­nate aides said. Aides said Cardin, the top Demo­crat on the US Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, was re­luc­tant for the United States to pro­vide the weapons given con­cerns about hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the Philip­pines. News of the thwart­ing of the weapons sale was met with dis­ap­point­ment among the Philip­pine po­lice and govern­ment yes­ter­day, but they said al­ter­na­tive sup­pli­ers would be found. Po­lice spokesman Dionardo Car­los said the Philip­pines had yet to be no­ti­fied about the sale be­ing stopped.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the United States and the Philip­pines, a long-time ally, has been com­pli­cated lately by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s an­gry re­ac­tion to crit­i­cism from Wash­ing­ton of his vi­o­lent bat­tle to rid the coun­try of il­le­gal drugs. More than 2,300 peo­ple have been killed in po­lice op­er­a­tions or by sus­pected vig­i­lantes in con­nec­tion with the anti-nar­cotics cam­paign since Duterte took of­fice on June 30. The US State Depart­ment in­forms Congress when in­ter­na­tional weapons sales are in the works. Aides said For­eign Re­la­tions com­mit­tee staff in­formed State that Cardin would op­pose the deal dur­ing the depart­ment’s preno­ti­fi­ca­tion process for the sale of 26,000-27,000 as­sault ri­fles, stop­ping the deal.

US State Depart­ment of­fi­cials did not com­ment. Ron­ald dela Rosa, the Philip­pine na­tional po­lice chief and staunch sup­porter of the war on drugs, said he liked the Amer­i­can ri­fle, but sug­gested China as an al­ter­na­tive small-arms provider. “We re­ally wanted the US ri­fles be­cause these are re­li­able,” he told broad­caster ABS-CBN. “But if the sale will not push through, we will find an­other source, maybe from China.” In Oc­to­ber, Duterte told US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to “go to hell” and said the United States had re­fused to sell some weapons to his coun­try, but he did not care be­cause Rus­sia and China were will­ing sup­pli­ers. —Agen­cies

MANILA: Thou­sands of crosses are lit with can­dles to pay trib­ute to the de­parted sol­diers in ob­ser­vance of All Saints Day at the He­roes Ceme­tery yes­ter­day in sub­ur­ban Taguig city, east of Manila, Philip­pines. Fam­i­lies bring flow­ers. Rel­a­tives seek out graves of de­parted sol­diers. Tombs across the Philip­pines get cleaned up. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.