ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Church and state together to create "peace zones", free of drugs

Saturday, 8 October 2016 violence   drugs   civil society   politics   human rights   justice   peace  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - In the midst of a campaign that sees organizations of civil society, in the Philippines and abroad, denounce extrajudicial executions carried out by police and paramilitary groups against traffickers and drug dealers, the Catholic Church welcomes and relaunches the proposal to take "a different path" to address the issue of drugs at a national level, without resorting to "state violence": this means starting a virtuous collaboration between state and civil society for drug addicts rehabilitation programs, accompanying drug dealers and addicts in a path of rehabilitation and social reintegration.
The government has launched a program called MASA MAsid ("Observatory of the people") which aims to encourage communities to take a proactive stance in the fight against corruption, drugs and crime.
According to the NGOs, widespread fight launched by President Rodrigo Duterte, as a tool to address the problem of drugs and organized crime, has so far caused 3,500 dead. "The number of victims is incredibly high and is approaching the figure of 4,000 deaths during the 20 years of martial law", notes Bishop Antonio Tobias at the head of the diocese of Novaliches.
With regards to the concerns of the Church, the Bishop appreciates the government's proposal as an "alternative path": in his diocese of Novaliches a "peace zone" will be created "with the start of specific joint programs of rehabilitation, thanks to the cooperation of state, NGOs, churches".
Another path suggested by the Church is that of transparency: one could spread a wanted list so that even the associations working in the territory can verify the truthfullness, given that "there are many parishes and priests engaged in the drug rehabilitation program", notes the Bishop. In this respect the Church is ready to cooperate with the state: "In the diocese of Novaliches, the Church, especially through its Basic ecclesial communities, will help the state administration in its fight against drugs, without resorting to violence but rather contributing to the healing and protection of drug victims". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/10/2016)