ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Jesuits: One cannot build a nation on the dead bodies of the Filipino people

Monday, 2 October 2017 drugs   youth   justice   politics   peace   orders   jesuits   violence  

Raffy Lerma -

In Raffy Lerma’s photo, a woman holds the dead body of her husband, who was killed in the "war on drugs". The photo, called the "Philippine Piety", has received several international awards and has become the symbol of the campaign calling for the stop of extrajudicial executions.

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "We cannot build a nation on the dead bodies of the Filipino people. We cannot fight evil with guns and bullets", said the Jesuits of the Philippines in a widespread appeal to all the dioceses, churches, schools and institutes where the religious are present. In the text, sent to Agenzia Fides, members of the Society of Jesus join the multiple voices of the Philippine Catholic community who have deplored the ongoing extrajudicial campaign in the country, carried out as a means of the "war on drugs" launched by President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the statement, signed by the Provincial of the order Antonio Moreno, entitled "To be united in the Power of the Spirit", shares the appeal launched by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle "to the consciousness of those who manufacture and sell illegal drugs" and "to the consciousness of those who kill the innocent": the Jesuits ask to stop criminal activities and the indiscriminate elimination of human lives.
"We agree on the fact that the threat of illegal drugs is real and destructive. The imperative to overcome this evil - reads the text of the Jesuits - does not belong only to the president, the Police, and the government. It belongs to all of us. The evil that attacks human with the power of the demonic, should unite us, not divide us. We must unite, coordinate, and allow good to ally with good; we must fight this enemy together".
The religious then note that "the menace of drugs is not just a political or criminal issue. It is evil that attacks humanity, turns human beings into zombies, policemen into murderers, criminals into lords, and the poor into victims", citing among the murders of young innocents the young Catholic Kian de los Santos. "We cannot fight evil with guns and bullets alone. This evil we must fight with insight, cooperation, cunning, the enlightened use of political and economic power, self-sacrifice, prayer and God’s grace", they say.
With this spirit, the Jesuits in the Philippines welcome and relaunch the appeal to begin a "multisectoral dialogue" that welcomes the good forces of state administration, security forces, civil society, churches "to understand the situation in depth" and understand that "the enemy of this war are not human rights, but the lack of commitment to human rights". "We cannot fight for human beings by denying their rights" they explain.
To counter international drug cartels and their traffickers "one must not kill the poor, who are the victims". To build a healthy and drug-free society, "a patient and multisectoral collaboration of good people working with good people is needed. We cannot build the Filipino nation on the dead bodies of the Filipino people", solemnly says the statement sent to Fides.
The path to follow is to "overcome evil with good": "If we want to be supportive towards all the victims of injustice" - says the Society of Jesus - "we must go beyond the expressions of offence and move on to constructive action. We need to teach young people, in our families, schools, and our communities what harm drugs cause; they need to be involved in order to overcome the bad habits and engage in the good".
The religious want greater involvement in the rehabilitation to help drug addicts get out of drugs and training for security forces on the protection of citizens' rights. "We need to work together, Church, government and civil society, to really overcome the evil of drugs in the Philippines", concludes the text.
According to the recent NGO estimates, the "drug war" launched by President Rodrigo Duterte about a year ago has caused at least 14,000 killings, of whom 3,800 were carried out by the police, with thousands of extrajudicial executions that remain unpunished. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/10/2017)