The bishops have spoken, can there be a fair response?



THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines yesterday issued a strongly worded pastoral letter on President Duterte’s extra-judicial killings, signalling a new phase in the uneasy relationship between the morally indifferent President and the country’s most numerous Church. It was a high moment for the Church. In my parish, the letter, which was read at the end of the Mass, was greeted with rounds of thunderous applause from the parishioners.

The bishops had earlier issued four other statements on various issues after their January plenary conference. But the pastoral letter was embargoed until yesterday. At Sunday mass, it was finally read. The bishops spoke against the summary killings and vowed to continue speaking even at the risk of being persecuted by DU30, without mentioning his name. They called upon the faithful to speak out more strongly too.

It was the first time the bishops spoke as one against the killings. They indicated they were ready to be persecuted for doing so. “We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other,” they said.

DU30 has tried to prevent the Church from speaking out by intimidating bishops and priests with calumny and slander, as he tried to do to Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, whom he accused outrageously of having two wives. Bacani riposted by challenging DU30 to produce even just one. Last July, the bishops decided not to take a common public stand on the month-old killings, but left it to individual bishops to issue their own pastoral statements, if they liked.

Uniting the bishops, the religious and the laity
This prompted some people to wonder what was keeping the hierarchy from speaking out against the evil that was already so evident. In one column, I proposed that the laity, as the “Church’s militants,” act on their own, even without any active prodding from the bishops. With the bishops’ response, the laity, religious and clergy can now move together as one in their fight for God and country.

In their pastoral letter, the bishops called on the faithful to abandon their silence and to denounce evil more openly. “To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it. Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent,” they said. “If we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their death…” If people neglect the drug pushers and users, “we have become part of the drug problem,” they said.

They called on the government to put a final stop to the drug killings. Following the brutal police kidnapping and murder of the Korean national Jee Ick-joo, DU30 suspended police operations against suspected drug dealers, which had already killed close to 7,000 suspects; but the so-called “vigilante killings” have been reported to continue. Not a single “vigilante” has been identified, arrested or killed, leading to speculations that they are either rogue policemen in disguise or sparrow units contributed by the New People’s Army.

Killing is no solution
The bishops pointed out that while the drug problem is an evil that must be dealt with, killing drug suspects is the wrong solution to it. “We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong.”

The bishops said the killings have created a “reign of terror” in many places, and “many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill are not brought to account.” In all these killings, not only the victims have suffered, but the lives of their families have also become worse. The bishops said, “We must also 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.” At the same time, “we must work together for the rehabilitation of drug addicts,” they said.

Four other documents
Prior to their pastoral letter, the bishops issued four teaching documents. These included a statement on the death penalty, a statement on the proposal to lower the age of criminal liability, pastoral guidelines on the use of social media, and a statement on ”amending the Constitution.”

All expressed a common position of the bishops on these important issues, but they could probably have explored stronger arguments.

Take the death penalty issue. Although we can never talk enough of the Gospel of Life, and the evil of the culture of death, which DU30 would like to propagate through the proposed capital sentence, we cannot simply keep on repeating it. The unthinking herd in Congress, which follows whatever DU30 says in his sleep, needs to be reminded that as long as our national police are involved in Murder, Inc., and witnesses are easily suborned or intimidated, and prosecutors and judges easily corrupted, we cannot put the death penalty in the hands of such a corrupt and dangerous criminal justice system where only the rich and the powerful have rights.

The rubber-stamp Congress also has to be reminded that as a sovereign state, we have long entered into an international treaty that commits us not to execute a single criminal, yes, criminal, which constitutes a permanent bar to the death sentence. For the government to renounce this treaty commitment is to return our country to a state of barbarism, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Not even DU30 can afford anything like that.

On DU30’s proposal to reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to 9, it is useful to consider that criminal syndicates increasingly use minors in certain types of crimes not because of any defect in the existing law, but simply because the criminal gangs are less inhibited. The solution to it is simply more honest, efficient and effective police work, and not to make infants criminally liable if they are used by criminals in the commission of certain crimes.

If Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is convinced that nine-year-olds should be held liable for certain crimes, would he be prepared, a broadcaster friend of mine wants to know, to allow nine-year-olds to be licensed to own a gun, drive a motor vehicle, or possibly run for Congress, if not for President? This is reductio ad absurdum, but it seems the only way to demonstrate to the present Congress the absurdity of their most harebrained ideas.

The third document —“Pastoral guidelines on the use of social media”—is a technical document that could be most useful in understanding the new phenomenon called social media. Laymen and clergy should get as much education as possible on the new technology. It should, as a minimum, help us to understand what trolls and bots are, and why they behave the way they do.

Constitutional challenges
In a recent incident, a senator complained that while close to 7,000 suspected drug addicts have been summarily killed, some suspected rogue policemen were simply made to do some “push-ups” for their suspected involvement in rub-outs. What travesty of justice, the senator was trying to point out. Unfortunately, his remarks offended some of DU30’s trolls, and they quickly crucified him by lecturing him on human rights. Has he not heard of “the rule of law and due process” that he should expect something harsher than “push-ups” for the “scalawags”?

The fourth document—“Amending the Constitution”—has a more extensive reach. It concedes, without a fight, that the present Constitution will be revised or amended because those in power would like to do it. But the document calls on the people to participate in the process. It mentions a number of important provisions of the present Constitution which it believes must be preserved at all costs. These include the following:

*Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” (DU30 has already flushed this down the drain.)

*“Public office is a public trust. All public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.” —The drug killings have rearranged this provision to read, “Public office is as the office-holder defines it. He is accountable only to himself, and the nation must be accountable to him.”

*“The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights…No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” —Close to 7,000 murdered drug suspects can no longer speak, but why don’t we ask their immediate families?

*“The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception…The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.” —The RH Law, under Aquino, put the State in control of the reproductive faculties of married couples, in violation of the moral law and the Constitution. Now DU30 wants strict implementation of this unconstitutional law, which the Supreme Court in one of its more benighted rulings has declared “not unconstitutional.” DU30 even wants to put a limit to the number of children a couple can have.

Time to act is now
The constitutional problems the bishops mention in this document are not problems that will occur only if and when the Constitution is amended or revised by the rubber-stamp Congress. They are occurring now. And we must intervene right now. It is not too late for the bishops to point out that the entire effort to revise or amend the Constitution—to include federalism—is a defective and diseased process. The Constitution itself excludes the President from any role in amending or revising the fundamental law, and yet the whole effort to change the Constitution is a declared project of the President.

The Congress and the people alone have rightful roles to play in this process, but the Congress must authentically represent the genuine wishes of the people, and not the whimsies of a capricious President. A Congress composed of the President’s unreconstructed lackeys has no right to propose constitutional changes on behalf of the sovereign electorate. These points should be clear to the bishops, so that they could raise them, with the fullness of their moral authority, and stop the rape and destruction of the Constitution in the guise of necessary constitutional change.


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  1. When you criticize, you must have an alternative to offer. The CBCP said “killing is no solution” but what is the alternative that they are offering to solve the drug problem in our country? Recently, there was a news about a girl who was brutally raped and hanged to death. I didn’t hear anything from the CBCP condemning this kind of violence. But when a criminal is killed as a result of a drug bust, they are quick to brand it as EJK. Where is this moral ascendancy coming from to request the government to stop the killings? Did the CBCP investigate any of these killings before they arrive at the conclusion that they are all EJK’s? Or did they plainly accepted as gospel truth the Amnesty International report? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Soc Villegas joins the call for the ouster of Du30. I think the majority of the Filipinos do not necessarily agree with the CBCP Pastoral letter unless they see an alternative being offered that is better than what the government is doing to solve the drug problem in the country. I attended mass last Sunday but I didn’t hear any thunderous applause after the reading of the pastoral letter.

  2. These bishops are blind , really blind!
    What is more righteous , to be an evil terminator or to be an evil protector?
    Remember the foremost evil terminator is The Lord God who will annihilate all evil come the appointed time of the end. Have you forgotten that the end of the world is appointed only for the sinners of the world?

    You act as evil protectors by defending heinous criminals. Bear in mind—evil has no human rights the reason the end of the world is coming and solely dedicated for them. The Lord shall completely destroy them , and who is Duterte ? His job is but a prelude to the coming total destruction in store for the wicked which the Almighty shall wrought upon the reprobates! You are included for your time is up!

    You are all harlots or the biblical “Patutot” in the book of Revelation. You are like the biblical prostitute , who is seated on many waters.
    Read what these ‘waters’ are—Revelation 17:15 (ESV)
    15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

    This description augur badly for you! You have played as harlots to the rest of the world having your dominion spread far and wide.

  3. What’s New? they always speak on every occasion and every issue of any administration we had. The problem is they only make noise thru paid media, Nobody listens to them. Case in point: They campaigned against RH bill, what happened? They campaigned against Duterte, He won landslide. Catholic church has no moral ascendancy and followers. People go to church every sunday for mass but that doesn’t mean they will follow their bishops and priest.

  4. My prayers are for the bishops and priests that hopefully they or their love ones won’t be victims of drug addicts. Prayers and pastoral letters are not enough. The Roman Catholic Church should release their funds to help address the drug situation and pray for the President. They are no different to the man on the street when they speak. If the Roman Catholic is not a part of the solution, they are part of the BIG problem. Is 1Peter 2:13-17 too hard to understand?
    13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

  5. The Bishops have spoken but would their Parishoners listen? The Catholic Church have long been politisized by these biased Cardinals and Bishops! they should cleansing their ground and distribute their resources by at least building and providing rehabilitation for their members. Filipinos are 90% Catholic, give and take some numbers, I presumed 90% of the claimed drug addicts are Catholics! Bishops should give mercy and help them too instead of politicking!

  6. If the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, in general and all the parish priests in particular, will take their cues from Pope Francis in general and in particular, St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta… that is, to spend just 10% of their daily or weekly time, serving personally the poor, the destitute and the hopeless, without any fanfare, then perhaps they will all soon merit the respect of all Filipino citizens, regardless of their religion!

    In many ways, we the Catholic laity may also be at fault, {I am no exception to this}, the way we treat our parish priests. We look up to them with reverence, {nothing wrong with that}, except that we should not put them in a pedestal… we invite them to big occasions like VIPs, for dinner, lunch of whatever… a vestige of the Fr. Damaso syndrome!

    We all know that respect is achieved through one’s action, especially our parish priests, through their humble actuation!

  7. I still believe what PDU30 have said to the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, and the Catholic Church they represent is the most corrupt and hypocritical institution that have ever existed in the Philippines. They have so much money and they cannot even share their wealth to feed the hungry. It seems like the bishops are protecting their clean image by issuing statements, not realizing that their image was tarnished long time ago. PDU30 admitted that there is GOD, and he wanted the people to develop relationship between themselves and God, without confessing their sins to priests, because they have bad breaths. These priests are human being themselves, sinners in that sense and they get horny like everybody else. It is forbidden in the bible to masturbate, therefore, they are going to find some other ways and means to release the accumulated body fluids, inside their bodies. I would remind the CBCP to draw the line and stay out of politics, instead, concentrate in helping to feed the hungry. War on drugs? the killings must continue to save the next generations of Filipinos. It is necessary to continue while the government has the momentum. Human Rights? it will be observed and respected. Bad mouthing the CBCP? it will continue unless the Bishops stop criticizing PDU30’s war on drugs.

  8. The Church lives off the society it is suppose to shepherd but it produces nothing of value. It is therefore a parasite but unlike other parasites this one always wants to dictate to its host how it should live its life. As a spiritual guide and moral mentor the Church is an utter failure as can be seen by the lack if spirituality and morality in our society. Isn’t this a sign that spirituality is only a cover and that their real goal is political domination? The absence of outrage from its so called flock every time Digong throws his thunderbolts at them betrays the fact that the people AGREE with Duterte that these prelates are nothing but shameless hypocrites. BISTADO NA SILA ! These priests are so deluded they don’t realize that the more they try to discredit Duterte the more they discredit themselves. They should make good on their threat of heightened militancy, as it will hasten their unveiling as the secret agents of Satan.

  9. “The bishops have spoken.”

    so what mr. tadtad ng kagaguhan…you’re dreaming if majority of us catholics still sees you and your bishops relevant. we see you as hypocrites and demonic…

  10. Mga BISHOP o” PARI man: TUMIGIL NA KAYO. Pangpagulo lang kayo…doon kayo sa simbahan at hikayatin ninyo ang mga adik magbago…isigaw nyo araw-araw tulad ng pagtalak nyo sa gobyarno yan ang tunay na papel nyo. Hindi upang utusan ang pamahalaan kung ano ang dapat…

    Another 1: Kung maayos kayong mga pari, bakit maraming umaalis sa CATHOLICO? Sumasapi sa isang bagong tatag na relihiyon? MAG-ISIP KAYO MGA PARI.

  11. To top it all, many people are not at ease with the idea that it will be the Comelec and/or Smartmatic or a similar private corporation that will count the votes of the “plebiscite”. The oligarchs and foreigners also have the money to campaign for “yes” using the expensive tri-media, paid-hacks, “NGOs”, “people’s organizations”, and their paid trolls in the social media.Remember that we still do not have a law that prohibits foreigners and oligarchs from having local “NGOs” and “people’s organizations” as their “advocates”.

  12. The problem with cha-cha is that no one can guarantee that nepotism, pork barrel, political dynasty, foreign military bases, secession, and other prohibited items under the present constitution will still remain prohibited under a new constitution. There is also no guarantee that free health care for the paupers, “an economy effectively controlled by Filipinos”, the teaching of nationalism, the mandate to undertake industrialization, freedom of religion, tax-free status for all religions, and the bill of rights will be retained undiminished under a new constitution. It is, therefore, not safe to undertake any cha-cha at this point in time especially if it is going to be done thru the evil con-ass. The very idea of con-*ass* itself is already foul-smelling.

    • The pro-farmer, pro-tenant, pro-consumer and pro-labor provisions of the present constitution like, but not limited to, the prohibition of contractualization and mandate to undertake agrarian land reform and urban land reform may also disappear or be diminished or watered-down under a new constitution which may be a pro-foreigner and pro-land lord and pro-oligarch constitution with fascistic provisions to eliminate dissent.

  13. Historically, the most evil wore white robes, Abito in talalog! They enslaved People, killed masses at will, rape women and children! Have they ask the peoples’ pardon ? Before u condemn, do the honors first!

  14. The Church is concerned with drug addicts and pushers. Yet its not concerned with the victims. Only the dilawan and the people living in their gated villages are so concerned by pushers and addicts. Yet the Church has ignored the one question people have been asking them all this time. Nasaan sila na nakaraan 6 years at bakit umabot sa pagiging narco state ang Pilipinas? Answer that question first then we can talk about your holier than thou attitude.

  15. Tigilan na ninyo ang destructive criticism. E sino ba ang may gusto ng killings? Sobra kasing nagmamarunong ang simbahan. Tignan ko nga Mr Tatad, sana nga e ikaw na lang ang presidente at ang mga bishops na yan, tignan ko lang kung effectivo yang mga ideas ninyo. Ang dali kasing magsalita, puro dada. Love na love kayo actually ng mga druglords, pushers at addicts at kriminal. Idol nila kayo dahil sa katulad mo Mr. Tatad at ng mga kaparian ay fiesta ang mga durugista sa Pilipinas. Ang labo kasi ninyo, si Digong nilalaban ang droga, e kayo sino nilalabanan ninyo? And for whom? Para sa ego ninyo? Na mas marurunong kayo? Okay, the means does not justify the end, e kayo, what is your end? And does your means help or obstruct justice? Dada dada dada pa more, habang si Digong e action lang ng action. Late na nga kayo sa reaction ninyo, naglilinis na ng PNP ang presidente, e ano pa ang problema ninyo? Simbahan? Patawarin nawa ng Diyos ang simbahan for being so partisan, double stardard and hypocritical!

  16. If the CBCP will stop showing their political yellow color then maybe the people will take heed. At the moment their actions are very obvious. I’m just glad our pastor did not have their pastoral letter read in our masses.

    • Good for your pastor. At our church, there was this middle-aged priest that I saw for the first time. He’s mestizo with a rather sanctimonious look. I had a bad feeling at the start, and when homily came, BOOM! I came to Church for prayer and peace of mind, but what I got was politics. I wanted to walk out but my wife convinced me that it’s God, not the priest, that we came for. This was the church that PNoy and Cory go to but no one even responded when that priest asked how everyone was.

  17. aladin g. villacorte on

    The shepherds have finally spoken, publicly and collectively, against the dark clouds and evil spirits that pervade the land. In God’s good time, guided by the Holy Spirit the flock may soon follow.

    Let us heed the shepherd’s call. And speak out too. Personally, as a faithful, my main concern is not President Duterte’s colorful language – I can live with that – but his “troubling lack of respect for human life”. Our continued silence will surely lead more lambs to the slaughter.

    It’s about time indeed – to borrow Bishop Pabillo’s metaphor – that the sleeping giant, meaning the laity, stirs up from its slumber.

    • The Great Defiant on

      respect of human life is nothing unless the citizen can live in safety and in peace…
      how can a drug craze guy think about respect of human life?…

  18. Napag-iwanan na ang Pilipinas ng ating mga neighboring countries dahil sa corruption. 50 years of corrupt government, media and church. Change has come. Sorry.

  19. CBCP could not even hint a fact that these problems – corrupt government agencies / officials, PNP, NBI, AFP, courts, and church(es) are already, like cancer, bone-deep long before DU30’s arrival. And that it is only now that we have a president who exposes every detail of these problems on drugs alone.

    Instead of helping the government in providing solutions, these people of the church who preach righteousness, but receive grease money from drug lords, gambling lords and prostitution lords continue existing with their hypocrisy.

    My question is – what happened to all your prayers? Why does our country remain in its worse state?

    • I attended mass yesterday and heard about the pastoral letter. Your are right, what have the church done with these long overdue problemss of the country? They are very vocal now in criticizing the present administration but never did they voice out how they could help the government combat the drug problem of the country.

  20. The CBCP letter remains a print-out of words or mere document until and unless the faithful wake up from their complacency and venture into the risky arena of “running the race till the end,” for the sake of the poor and downtrodden…for the greater g lorry of God. Thanks, Mr. Tatad! The Bishops should take serious note of the points you raised.

  21. There was a call by the President for the church to unleash their wealth and help the drug addicts. The church must respond to that call by starting to plan and construct Regional Rehabilitation Centers throughout the country. That is one way of elevating this Pastoral Letter into a high moral ground.
    For us faithful and not fanatics makes us think if truly our Church, the Catholic Church, really finds it prudent to involve the faithful among the state affair it must walk the talk and start now.
    This might ease the pain and suffering of the families of more than three million addicts in the country.
    I agree to stop the killings but let me ask anybody again rich or poor …do everyone live a normal life when you have in your family a drug addict? Please don’t forget to narrate your problem to your Priest.

  22. Killing can never never be a solution on anything. Sanctity of life. Duterte is a lost sheep. He needs our prayers. Let’s not condemn this guy.

    • The Great Defiant on

      killing them with bullets or killing them with drugs dose not make any difference.
      at least someone is trying to stop the drug menace…
      praying is one thing….doing is another thing…

      how can you sanctify life when drugs are flooding your streets?

    • The end of the world is the killing of all sinners and lawless criminals. It is in fact THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION by The Lord. Will you still condemned killing when that end comes?

  23. Alicia M. Advincula on

    Why don’t the Catholic Church reflect on what it has done for the past several years to curb the drug menace in the country. Even in rehab centers, I seldom hear of delegations from the RC church catering for the spiritual needs of the drug dependents. I have a niece in one of these rahabs who has converted to the INC because this congregation looks after his spiritual needs. Now, he has fully recovered and a faithful member of the INC. Being a RC myself and other members of the family, we just allow our niece to embrace another religion for his total transformation.These bishops should rather act rather than talk. If they cannot do anything about the problem, manahimik na lang sana.

  24. The Great Defiant on

    and don’t forget this datdat…
    the people have spoken and we are ALL very tired of your rhetorics…
    Ano ang ginawa nyo para sa mga mahihirap?
    pagnanakaw ng politico?
    pag baha ng drugs sa bansa?…
    ANO??????….P.I. MO!!!!

    you and your bishops…GO TO HELL!!!

  25. Right on, Mr. Tatad! I think you should be approached by CCBP to be one of their legal advisers pro bono! You hit all the right notes. Congrats and may your tribe increase!

  26. Only when the danger poised by Duterte’s war on drugs, i.e., that they themselves or their close relatives could be victimize by it’s corrupt enforcers becomes very evident in their minds, that’s the only time people will oppose it. For now,their fear of the drug user as a ruthless criminal is greater than their fear of violating God’s fifth commandment. They also appear to share the President’s view that drug addicts are hopelessly reduced to being dregs. Perhaps the release of CBCP’s letter was made at just the right time in the light of recent events revealing corruption in the enforcement of this war on drugs with chilling consequences.


    Yonkers, New York
    05 January 2017

    It has taken the Roman Catholic Bishops, in concert through the CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES [CBCP] an “eternity” of 7 months to find its voice against the warrantless genocidal extrajudicial killing of those SUSPECTED of being involved on way or the other in Little Tyrant Duterte’s speciously justified Drug War, a brutal illegal drive which, so far, has netted for him around 7,000 hapless victims, his macabre goal being 3 MILLION.

    But as that cliche goes, “BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!”



  28. the problem is Soc Villegas himself. He is not CBCP. He’s the devil incarnate. He should step down and stop politicizing the church or it will go in ashes with him.