• Church fears culture of ‘impunity’

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    A group of Church leaders has warned that lack of condemnation of the surge in the number of summary killings of people linked to illegal drugs can lead to a culture of “impunity.”

    The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) on Thursday said while they support the crusade of President Rodrigo Duterte against the problem of illegal drugs, they cannot countenance the daily incidence of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug pushers and drug users.

    “We are alarmed at the silence of the government, groups and majority of the people in the face of these killings. Ubi boni tacent malum prosperat. Evil prospers where good men are silent. Is this lack of public outcry a tacit approval of what is happening? Is it fear that prevents people from speaking out? Whatever the reason, this problem, if it remains unchecked, leads to a culture of impunity,” said Father Cielito Almazan and Sister Regina Kuizon, AMRSP co-chairmen, said in a statement.

    As of August 23, authorities had already recorded 1,916 deaths. Of the number, 750 were attributed to legitimate police operations, while the rest, 1,166, were alleged vigilante-style killings.

    The group said the alarming incidence of summary killings has been happening daily for the last two months and the number of dead bodies are still rising with apparently no end in sight.

    “As religious and consecrated persons, we believe that the wheels of justice should take their course following the proper procedure and operate within the bounds of the law,” it added.

    “We demand that the concerned government agencies continue apprehending those involved in drug trafficking but avoiding extrajudicial killings, and pursue and apprehend vigilantes who carry out such illegal actions,” the AMRSP said.

    It committed to do its share to help the government address the problem of illegal drugs and in putting an end to vigilante justice.

    Among others, the group vowed to care for the violated, the orphaned and the widowed through counseling, sharing and integration with gospel values, and to stand with people of other faiths and other beliefs in the inviolability and sacredness of life.

    It also committed to recognize that the drug problem is a complex and deeply emotional issue that needs to be addressed holistically, with great understanding and compassion for both victim and perpetrator for “we are all dehumanized by this culture of death,” and support the need for reforms in the criminal justice system and the need for rehabilitation of drug dependents.

    The group cited the need to weed out the corrupt in the country’s security forces as well as in the prosecution service and the judiciary, saying the drug menace is an intricate web of corruption and patronage that feeds on the insatiable desire of people for profit.

    Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Fr. Atillano Fajardo of Manila Archdiocese’s Public Affairs Ministry, among other Church officials, also aired a similar concern.

    According to Villegas, the drug-related killings “are too much to swallow.”

    “I do not have to be a bishop to say this. I do not have to be a Catholic to be disturbed by the killings that jar us every time we hear or watch or read the news,” he earlier said in a statement entitled “Let the Humanity in Us Speak.”

    “My humanity is in grief. I am in utter disbelief… This is too much to swallow,” Villegas added.

    But Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, the Archbishop Emeritus of Manila, said Duterte is on the right track.

    According to Rosales, the President has shown decisiveness never seen before in his predecessors, and even chided critics and fault-finders, saying they do not have a monopoly over righteousness.

    “Now there is a new leader and we can see he is on a right track, the leadership really is on right track,” Rosales earlier said at the Church-run Radyo Veritas.

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    5 Comments

    1. Ignacio Balbutin on

      The death of the drug lords and drug addicts who sought it out with the police are hard to swallow. How about the victims of the criminals, young girls being robbed, raped and killed, ordinary citizens killed without reasons by the criminals, are they hard to swallow also Bishops. I think instead of complaining, the catholic church should help the war against drugs by housing the surrenderies in their wide and spacious property all over the country. They should teach the students in their schools the dangers of drugs and provide sikilled training for those who surrenders ok, good Bishops?

    2. Debbie prejoles on

      Itong mga religious group na ito wala ibang ginagawa kundi satsat ng satsat sa halip na gumawa nang paraan kung paano makatulong na maresolba ang problema ng droga s bansa..kung hindi si digong ang naging presidente baka another 6 years from now pati ang mga lolo’t lola naging adik na..ang bagong silang na sanggol baka shabu na ang tinitira..kami ay sumosuporta s programa ni digong at ngayon lang kami nakadama nang kaligtasan dito s aming lugar.nuon parang candy ang bentahan nang shabu dito sa lugar namin.wala nang ibang presidente na willing itaya ang kanyang buhay pr s kanyang inang bayan kaya mabuhay ka digong..God Bless the Phils!

    3. Samuel Abiertos on

      When you go soft on drug lords, drug dealers, and drug mules, you actually condone evil and despoil society, especially the poor who so easily get hooked on meth that then goads them to do senseless violence and mayhem. This is why I think President Duterte, for all his penny ante mistakes, is doing the right thing–to summarily eliminate these illegal drug purveyors in six months flat. After that, it will be possible for him to declare a unilateral moratorium on the commerce on illegal drugs to the boundless delight of human rights junkies like these naive religious superiors. Let’s just hope and pray that the drug menace doesn’t grow to pandemic proportions again six years later when Digong’s term is done and an incompetent, spineless, goody-goody, pious, and “disente” President takes his place. For all his behavioral deficits from a civil society standpoint, Digong is undeniably a once-in-a-lifetime force of nature. So stop this senseless ranting and sniveling against him. Let him do his avowed cleansing mission for the country. Let’s support him in this war against illegal drugs before this evil–this pox on our race–destroys us completely.

    4. THE Church should use all it’s seminaries, retreat houses and huge land holdings and half their mass collections to set-up drug-rehabilitation centers if it want’s to contribute to the solving the problem. All their useless talk and misdirected condemnation are a whole lot of nothing!

    5. The alleged failure of the government to uphold the sanctity of life is so much or bitter to swallow. By just telling that over the media that will only heightened the presumptuous indivdual that somehow somebody is behind their back who praise and cuddle them. An addicted person in any clinical studies defined it as a desease that can still be cured if detected earlier but beyond recuperation if humsn brain losses the area of perception and commits a heineous crime. Let explore the word deterrent in layman terms to prevent someone to do something (death penalty)is one and on the spiritual side or those who claim to be religous and consecrated persons maybe by going around and bring out or teach them the value of life and the punitive measures the authority can inflict to them. In other words be proactive rather than do something after the fact. THe latter may come too late and the consiquence is theirs to endure.