The Daily Manila Shimbun


Resolving drug problem by killing is wrong: CBCP

February 5, 2017

Catholic bishops have issued a strongly-worded pastoral letter criticizing the alleged thousands of drug suspects killed under the Duterte administration.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said prelates are "deeply concerned" over the deaths and killings in the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

"This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers. We are concerned not only for those who have been killed," he said.

He said the situation of the families of those killed is also cause for concern because their lives "have only become worse."

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, reacting on the CBCP pastoral letter, said the prelates seemed "out of touch."

He claimed that the sentiments of the Catholic faithful "overwhelmingly support" the changes in the country, "turning the nation into a safe place for families, working people especially young night shift  workers, far from the 'terror' the bishops paint rather dramatically."

Over 7,000 people who were allegedly involved in illegal drugs have been killed in the campaign against the drug menace for the past seven months. Of those killed, about 2,500 perished from police operations, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong," Villegas said.

According to Villegas, Catholic bishops want change. "But change must be guided by truth and justice," he said, noting every person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He underscored the need to give priority to "reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges."

"The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality. Often it is the poor who suffer from this system. We also call upon elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests," he said.

"We in the Church will continue to speak against evil even as we acknowledge and repent of our own shortcomings. We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other."

Villegas urged the people not to allow fear to reign and keep them silent.

Abella said the efforts of these Church leaders “might be put to better use in practical cathechetics that build strong moral character among the faithful, and so contribute more to ther eign of peace felt by ordinary citizens everywhere, specially those who are innocent of illegal activities." Celerina Monte/DMS