BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The 4 dioceses in Negros Island again condemned the spate of killings in the country due to the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
Bishop Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, and Diocesan Administrator Rolando Nueva of Kabankalan issued this message in a joint statement Friday, September 8.
In their statement, the Catholic leaders criticized a double standard in the drug war.
"Due process is strongly demanded in cases where rich and influential people are involved like children of top government officials, while the poor who are merely suspected of the crime are summarily executed. We believe that this drug war as presently waged is based on a shortsighted and superficial understanding of the problem which needs a more comprehensive and integrated approach," they said.
The Catholic leaders said they sensed "the grief, the anguish, the fear, the confusion, even the outrage, and the many troubling questions of family members, colleagues, classmates, friends, and communities of those who were killed without due process, either as part of our government's war on drugs or counter-insurgency measures or as plain civilian banditry."
At the same time, they acknowledged the enormity of the drug problem, as well as the peace and order situation.
"They reveal to us not only the political and criminal issues involved. They also and more importantly mirror to us the deeper social ills plaguing for so long our country – much more our island of Negros! These social problems are deeply felt in areas where there is defective governance and great socio-economic-political-cultural and ecological imbalances," they said.
'Climate of fear'
Moreover, the church leaders challenged themselves and their dioceses to pray that the country may end the drug menace, but in a way that is just and lawful; to intensify evangelization particularly in forming consciences and promoting life, starting with families; and to work with government, civil society, and other churches in drug prevention and rehabilitation.
In 2016, they also issued a joint statement condemning the anti-drug campaign of the administration.
In their new statement, they said they reaffirmed their statement last year, condemning the increasing number of killings. They also reiterated the sanctity of human life.
"This statement has become even more necessary because of the unabated and appallingly increasing incidents of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) as part of 'One Time, Big Time' campaign, riding-in-tandem shooting, or anti-insurgency operations, as well as the ambushes perpetrated by the underground revolutionary forces. We are greatly alarmed, for example, by the spate of killings committed even in broad daylight that is still going on in the city of Guihulngan and the resulting climate of fear, demoralization, and unpeace," the church leaders said.
In the Philippine capital, also on Friday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued his strongest written statement against the drug war killings.
"We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing," the Manila archbishop said. – Rappler.com