Geneva (Agenzia Fides) - "It is necessary to defend democracy and human rights in the Philippines: democracy in the 'war against drugs' by President Duterte has caused thousands of extrajudicial killings, impunity, and threatning signs of authoritarianism": this is what is said by a forum of Filipino civil society organizations gathered under the platform "Ugnayan Bayan", which in these days, in conjunction with the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, organized a demonstration in front of the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva. As Fides learns, simultaneously, thousands of faithful participated in a solemn Eucharistic concelebration in San Agustin church in Manila and then announced a peaceful protest march at Luneta Park (in downtown Manila) to express a firm opposition to the "murder policy" promoted by President Rodrigo Duterte in the "war on drugs", while refusing any attempt to enforce martial law in the country.
The forum includes several Catholic religious leaders who are engaged in the defense of life, among them the Jesuit Albert Alejo who explains to Fides: "Extrajudicial executions are the distinctive sign of Duterte's administration drug warfare. Since June 2016 at least 12,000, including 54 minors have died. The problem of the widespread of drugs is more than a criminal problem. It is also a public health problem and is also a result of poverty".
The platform of the Philippine civil society, shared by many Christian associations, therefore calls for "ending impunity: we demand impartial investigations into killings and the pursuit of killers, thus guaranteeing the rule of law". "President Duterte - reads the statement sent to Fides - should be considered responsible for the thousands of executions. His continuous public encouragement to the police to eliminate those who commit drug crimes has fueled the spiral of homicides".
Catholic communities in the Philippines have deplored with anger the repeated murders of some teenagers: among them Kian delos Santos a 17-year-old Catholic, Carl Angelo Arnaiz (19), and Reynaldo de Guzman (14), who were killed while in the custody of agents. In the case of Kian delos Santos, the police said the boy was a drug dealer and was killed during an anti-drug raid, but the recording of a video camera shows that, well before being killed, he was already arrested and taken into custody by the police.
Organizations launch an alarm on human rights defenses in the Philippines: "The president often denigrates human rights as an obstacle to peace and development and threatening human rights activists who criticize his government". That is why, they say "it is urgent to protect and strengthen our democratic institutions", condemning any form of authoritarianism and the return to the "martial law" still in force on the island of Mindanao. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/9/2017)