ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Catholic leaders: you cannot rule the country with murders

Monday, 11 September 2017 extrajudicial killings   drugs   solidarity   civil society   human rights   human life   violence  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "In the so-called crusade against drugs launched by President Duterte, extrajudicial killings continue at a pace of about a thousand per month. The poor are those most affected. To understand the seriousness of the phenomenon, one must bear in mind that under the dictatorship of Marcos, one of the darkest periods of national history, there were 250 a year. We have a serial killer president and the state is becoming a state-killer. As Christians we cannot remain indifferent": is the alarm launched to Agenzia Fides by the Filipino Jesuit Albert Alejo, anthropologist and professor at Manila University, engaged with a group of religious from other congregations and Catholic laity to raise consciousness in order to end the campaign of murders and human rights violations that the nation is going through under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte. "There is total contempt of human life, there is impunity for those who commit crimes, there is the destruction of the rule of law and of democracy: can we remain silent or ignore this situation?", the Jesuit asked, consulted by Agenzia Fides.
The persistence of violence perpetrated by police and vigilantes squadrons that eliminate small drug dealers and drug addicts has recently generated new reactions from Filipino Bishops. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said in recent days that "the country cannot be governed by violence". "With pain and horror we continue to receive news of murders every day, largely victims of suspected drug dealers or drug addicts", he noted. "We cannot allow the destruction of life to become an ordinary fact. We cannot rule the nation with homicides, this is not human", said Tagle, while in the nation news about new investigations involving police officers secretly involved in extrajudicial killings spread.
The Cardinal called for a "change of heart" and to rediscover "the inclination to do good and to love one another" and asked the priests to show solidarity and closeness to the families of the victims, suffering from pain. That is why in many Philippine dioceses, including Manila, church bells sound for five minutes at 8pm every evening, inviting the faithful to remember the victims of extrajudicial killings and to pray for them.
Without denying the presence of the problem of the spread of drugs and trafficking in the nation, the Philippine Church considers the means of fighting the phenomenon unfair and inadequate. That is why at the end of August a special conference brought together Bishops, government representatives, police authorities, leaders of non-governmental organizations with the goal of developing a partnership between the various sectors of society and government, and to launch a fruitful collaboration to fight drugs in a different way. "I hope this kind of dialogue can continue at different levels", said the Cardinal. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/9/2017)