Today, she is suing these men in the hope of proving that they shot her loved ones without legality. This is a rare example of the trial of police officers responsible for leading the “war on drugs” of incumbent Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to official figures, more than 6,200 people have died in anti-narcotics operations since Mr Duterte came to power in 2016, after he pledged to rid the country of drug trafficking.

But human rights activists estimate that tens of thousands of people, mostly destitute men, have been killed, sometimes without proof of their links to trafficking.

Despite international condemnations, only three police officers have been tried for the murder of a suspect.

Lawyers say families are too scared to prosecute their loved ones’ killers or have no time or money to engage with the Philippines’ broken justice system.

By waging a legal battle, Ms. Bonifacio, who has five other children, had to give up the idea of ​​a normal life.

For fear of the police, released on bail, or their supporters, she has moved several times and lives in constant fear.

– Size obstacle –

“There is always a risk (of being killed)”, sighs the one who is much older than her 48 years.

“I also have to think about the safety of my children,” she explains.

She filed a murder complaint in 2017, claiming that her husband Luis, an unemployed decorator, and her son Gabriel, a waiter, were not involved in drug trafficking and were unarmed when the police opened fire.

But it took four years for the mediator to retain the less serious charge of homicide against the police.

The police said they acted in “self-defense” after the victims shot them and asked for the case to be closed for lack of evidence.

“I don’t wish them dead. I want them to understand what they did wrong and assure that they won’t do it to others again,” Ms Bonifacio says.

But the complainant faces a major obstacle: the evidence is held by the police, the same institution that leads the “war on drugs”, explains her lawyer Kristina Conti.

“For these kinds of crimes, the burden of responsibility cannot simply fall on the victims or the survivors,” adds Ms. Conti.

Raquel Fortun, one of only two medical examiners in the Philippines, worked with a Catholic priest and families to gather evidence she hopes could be used in court.

She examined some of the exhumed remains of victims of the “war on drugs”.

– “We will continue to fight” –

What she found calls into question the common police version that the suspects “defended themselves”.

“I see some cases where you have bullet wounds on the wrists, on the forearms, on the hands (…) instinctively, this person had to raise an arm, a hand. So how can he be defended?”

According to Ms Bonifacio, her difficult neighborhood saw murders almost “every night” at the height of the “war on drugs”.

Her youngest child, 13, often wakes up crying after a nightmare where he is chased by the police who are trying to kill him.

He turns off the television when Mr. Duterte appears on it and flees at the sight of a policeman.

The family closes their door in the early evening, gets off the bus when a man resembling a policeman gets on, and only makes brief visits to the cemetery for fear of being attacked.

Ms. Bonifacio accuses Mr. Duterte of having ordered the killing of the suspects.

“He should also go to prison,” she claims.

The incumbent president, who will lose his immunity when he leaves office on Thursday, has openly ordered the killing of suspected traffickers when the lives of police officers are in danger.

He refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Court which is investigating this “drug war”.

Justice Minister Menardo Guevarra told the UN Human Rights Council in March that his office has reviewed around 300 cases of drug operations that have resulted in deaths.

To date, prosecutions have been initiated in five of these cases, he told AFP.

Mrs. Bonifacio has lost none of her determination in her quest for justice.

“We will continue to fight,” she proclaims.