THE Catholic Church will always come to the rescue of the innocent, aggrieved and those who have less in life if needed under its “right to sanctuary”, a former head of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Sunday.
“The Church has this [policy of]right to sanctuary. The Church receives those who ask for help which they believe are innocent, aggrieved, unjustly accused, threatened, who mostly are also poor and have less in life and don’t have the capacity to protect themselves,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, former CBCP president, told The Manila Times.
Cruz issued the statement after Caloocan City Bishop Pablo Virgilio David offered sanctuary to the witnesses in the killing of senior high school student Kian de los Santos and refused to give them up when members of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), together with the father of one of the witnesses, tried to get them from him late Saturday night.
The intervention by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) broke the standoff, with the father asking David that he and other members of his family be taken into custody, as well, by the archbishop.
Cruz said the Caloocan bishop has the full backing and support of the CBCP in its tug-of-war with the CIDG.
Cruz said that in a situation like this, the CBCP would give prerogative to the bishop concerned, as in the case of David in Caloocan, to speak and issue statements because he would know what was happening his diocese.
Before David, the young witnesses were in the custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros who refused to turn them over to authorities.
De los Santos was killed by Caloocan police on Aug. 16 during an anti-crime operation.
While police claimed that de los Santos was a drug courier who tried to pull a gun on them on that fateful night, the young witnesses and a CCTV footage of the incident indicated otherwise.
De los Santos was one of hundreds of victims in the growing number of extrajudicial killings resulting from
President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.
The policemen involved in de los Santos killing has since been relieved from their posts pending the results of an investigation.