LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippines is in a dismal and bleak situation following the continuing extrajudicial killings under the helm of President Rodrigo Duterte, Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said.
With this, he led the faithful in asking for God’s intercession to change the president’s heart so he will put an end to the killings of drug suspects by policemen.
“We cannot change the heart of the president. We cannot change [the minds of]the cops [from pulling]the trigger. Lord, let our people bleed no more. Let our people heal our land,” the prelate said in a homily.
Baylon said that while the church supports the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, it will continue to oppose extra judicial killings as a measure to end the drug problem in the country.
He said that most of the victims of extra judicial killings in Philippines are the poor, the voiceless, the helpless and uneducated who cannot defend themselves.
While a very small percentage of those killed in the drug wars are wealthy but Baylon clarified he also did not want them to be killed as only God can take away the life of a person.
The bishop also said the assault from various fronts against human rights is alarming as more than 5,000 people have been killed since the start of the Duterte administration.
“That is an average of 38 people killed daily. From July 1 to December 1 there have been 5,869 people killed in the war on drugs,” Baylon added. He also cited Pope Francis’ statement that not even the death penalty will solve the problem.
“We don’t want this darkness to continue so we are asking for God’s intervention as we cannot change the heart of the president. We believe that there are more good policemen in the country especifically in Bicol who don’t want to pull the trigger to kill people but there are also policemen involved in extra judicial killings,” Baylon added.
The prelate led the Kusog nin Paglaom (Strength of Hope) prayer-rally for human rights and the sanctity of life, to end violence on the eve of the annual celebration of International Human Rights Day held at the Freedom Park here on Friday night.
The event was attended by the clergy, nuns, students from various Catholic schools and parishioners.
Meanwhile, Baylon also expressed sadness and disgust over the plan of Congress to lower to nine years old the age of criminal liability.
“Jail is no place for a child,” Baylon said. After the Holy Mass, a candle lighting for peace to end extra judicial killings was held in front of the Albay Cathedral.
The Diocese of Legazpi launched the “Prayer at Nine Movement” here on the first Sunday of Advent. For the duration of Advent season, church bells in the 45 parishes across the province will ring at 9 p.m. to pray as one church seeking for genuine peace and justice and to put an end to extrajudicial killings in the country.