DO THE POOR HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO GRIEVE?

stop-killinge-the-poorIn a dim-lit street in Navotas, two coffins were laid. Two brothers were victims of tokhang (drug-related killings) while inside their house in the broad afternoon. Armed men stormed the house and killed the two.   One  of them was  carrying his grandchild  when shot.    The brothers used to work as batilyo (fish workers who carry or drag loads of fish (no trolleys available!)  in port areas. The average income is P200-P300.00 daily.  Usually the batilyo(s) are up from morning to late evening or past 12 midnight. Some rest a little after lunch.  .

The family is so poor that it had to place them in the street. No enough space in their space they call “home”.  The truth is , daily, the family has to struggle earn their keep. The son of a victim has to work in Mandaluyong in a longganisa factory to earn an income of P200-00 for more than twelve hours of work a day.  An eleven-year –old son is already assisting his father in batilyo work.

There were community members who paid their respects and condoled with the surviving families.  The eldest son could not afford to cry as he was preoccupied with where to get money needed for the funeral, while his aunt computed the expenses for church services and the cemetery fees.

There was neither sobbing nor story-telling rituals for the dead, as those who were supposed to comfort each other found it a luxury to do so, even as they needed to think of  the expenses during  the wake and the burial.

The young son, in fact, did his usual work at the port in the evening of the second night of the wake. He had to do so they could eat and perhaps offer coffee to the people of the wake.  The young one inherited his father’s job, including the poverty and misery, but never the privilege of grieving.

Tokhang  operations had opened up a window  about poverty, injustice and  discrimination.

The extrajudicial killings ,  the killings  , violent illegal raids must be stopped and the impunity ended.  The poor families and their kin who see their loved ones get killed in the most brutal ways find it hard to get justice as they face bureaucratic intricacies of legal procedures. Already grinding poverty grips the poor –- the so- called addicts, the small-time runners, the non-addicts who compete with dogs and cats in the mounds of garbage to take what could be sold for their meals, the scavengers, the batilyos, the coconut vendors, the vegetable peddlers, the errands, public sales barkers, and many others who hope to earn at least one hundred a day to feed themselves and families.  They share common pain not only of negligence but also of deprivation. Theirs is not an option to be poor, but a predicament bequeathed upon by the conspiracy of injustice and violence.

Denied social justice, they are left with rags and filth and are looked down upon on the basis of their class status, address, smell, and the tone of their skin. On the day of their death, their predicament is taken advantage of by unconcerned capitalists for profit-making business possibilities.   We , at the Rise Up for Life and for Rights , we  found that the cheapest funeral service  is  at P35,000.00 , cemetery  fee at P5,000.00 . For batilyos and  many semi-proletariats. such amount  is extravagantly dear.

Still do they pray in their sorrow? Still do they plan for a Mass, worried if they would be able to afford the church service?

What time is there for grieving?

Grieving is a class issue.

 

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