Pastoral appeal to our law enforcers


Appeal to reason and humanity

Seek peace and pursue it (Ps.34:14)

Brothers and sisters enforcers of the law:

Peace be with you!

We commend you, our law enforcers on your new-found earnestness in enforcing the law and in apprehending malefactors, but we are disturbed by an increasing number of reports that suspected drug-peddlers, pushers and others about whom reports of criminal activity have been received, have been shot, supposedly because they resist arrest.

It is equally disturbing that vigilantism seems to be on the rise. Media has carried reports of bodies, apparently of homicide or murder victims, showing up on whom placards announcing their supposed crimes are writ large!

Appeal to humanity in us

One can “shoot to kill” solely on the ground of legitimate self-defense or the defense of others. Law and jurisprudence have sufficiently spelled out the elements of self-defense and for purposes of Catholic morality. It is necessary to emphasize that you, as law enforcers, can “shoot to kill “ only first, when there is unjust provocation; second, when there is a real, not only conjectural, threat to your life or to the lives and safety of others; third, when there is clue proportion between the threat posed and your own use of a firearm aimed at the threatening subject.

To kill a suspect outright, no matter how much surveillance work may have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified. Suspicion is never the moral equivalent of certainty, and punishment may be inflicted only on the ground of certainty.

When the arrest of a suspect is attempted, and the suspect endeavors to flee or to escape from the scene, every attempt by non-lethal means should be made to stop the suspect from fleeing and if shot at, every attempt should be made to spare the fleeing suspect from death, unless the escape of such a victim clearly and immediately puts others in harm’s way.

It is never morally permissible to receive reward money to kill another. When bounty hunting takes the form of seeking out suspects of crime, killing them, then presenting proof of the death of the object of the hunt to the offerer of the reward, one is hardly any different from a mercenary, a gun-for-hire, no matter that the object of one’s manhunt should be a suspected offender.

It is the moral duty of every Catholic, every Christian, in fact, to report all forms of vigilantism of which they have personal knowledge. For greater reason is it a duty to keep away from any participation and any form of cooperation with vigilantes and vigilante movements.

We must fight criminality but…

The impunity with which offenders of the law carry on with their criminal activity also points out flaws in our criminal justice system but remembering that the community is as much a pillar of this system as are all other components, members or the Community—Christians especially—should not be too quick to point accusing fingers at law-enforcers, prosecutors and judges. We must all ask ourselves, whether or not by our silence, our indifference, or worse, our acts, we may have contributed to the proliferation of crime and the increase in criminal activity.

We understand the difficulties that law enforcers face, the daily risk to life and limb but not only civil society but also the Church counts them for the flourishing of a society where all enjoy the blessings of a regime under laws that are just and institutions that are fair.

We beg our prosecutors and judges to remain firm in their consecration to justice, for there can be no greater insult to the Creator than to use the gifts of intelligence, discernment and one’s success at legal studies for ends contrary to builds the Body of Christ and contributes the building of Kingdom of God. “To all of whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

Do not set God aside

God never gave up on us. We have no right giving up on ourselves or on our brothers and sisters. Jesus came to restore the harmony of Paradise. Let no one ever raise his hand against his brother or sister, for the blood that is shed—even if it be the blood of one we suspect or crime—cries to heaven for justice!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Intramuros, Manila, June 20, 2016.

(SGD)+ Socrates B. VILLEGAS
archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP


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  1. Dami mong alam, ayusin mo muna sariling mong bakuran. Puro corruption at immoralidad sa simbahan. Wala pa sa bibliya mga tinuturo pambihira tapos pakikialaman mo nanaman ang gobyerno. Ano ba nagawa ng mga bishops/CBCP sa lipunan? puro kayo investments sa stocks tapos pa raffle tapos hingi sa mga politiko.

  2. Pilipino Ako on

    What? Another appeal from Socrates Villegas, ang dakilang alalay ni Jaime Sin. Rather than making an appeal, Mr. Socrates Villegas must explain to the Filipino people his role in covering-up regarding the cheating in the 2004 presidential election. And how about telling your church Mr. Socrates Villegas to stop accepting donations from jueteng lords. Undoubtedly, you’re a hypocrite Mr. Socrates Villegas!

  3. The church has lost her moral ascendancy. Look at the various response. We are fighting evil. These people are demon possessed. Duterte is right, they are killing our children. Satan has has 3 objectives, steal , kill and destroy. Specially the Chinese drug capitalist and pushers. They come to our country to kill our children.

  4. Mauro Bravo Jr on

    My thoughts on this issue as CBCP STATED, are as follows: 1. This is the time to defeat the enemies & this is the duty of the authorities. Specifically drugs addiction, the future generation is threaten. The picture of the future will be so bad if this will not be stopped. The involved are the victims & victimizers. CBCP should help these victims be rehabilitated & the victimizers should be encouraged by the churches to stop & answer their wrong doings. If you do this you may save & restore many & give justice to the victims. But you can not stop the battle against this enemy( drug addiction, corruption & crimes). This is the time to kill. It’s scriptural & historical & practical?

  5. This is a good article; but the “law enforcers” to whom it is addressed are not the types who will read it. Archbishop Villegas and the CBCP must come up with another method to disseminate its contents. How about the Clergy preaching the same in Church or Catholic schools? The Catholic Church must remain steadfast and unwavering in its opposition to the proposed return of the death penalty and this “kill, kill, and kill some more” mentality of this new administration. The Church must start a movement to counteract these actions. Think, Father, think! There is a lot of successful counteroffensive precedence in history. There is time to mobilize Catholic activists and to solicit ideas from the flock. We cannot and should not allow President Duterte’s government to push the country back to medieval times. Murder by the Government is absolutely not acceptable!!

  6. Why don’t the CBCP and Villegas issue a pastoral lettler aimed at the drug lords, peddlers, pushers and users to respect the law and stop killing innocent lives with their illegal trade and not to forget God, because this otherwise extreme measure used to put a stop against them and their trade wouldn’t be needed to cleanse our society of undesirables like them. Why protect a law breaker and condemn a law enforcer? Something is wrong with the way CBCP and Villegas think, when it comes to the protection of human life, looking at how God dealt with sinners in the bible, there it is written how Noah was instructed to build an ark, then came the flood caused by continuous rain for 40 days and nights.

    Only through obedience of the law can one be safe from any harm, and their pastoral letter should be aimed at all Filipinos to follow the rule of law, and that includes the church.

  7. jeff jaramillo on

    the best defense is offence

    in order to save the weak and the innocent, eliminate to oppressor and the criminals.

    If prayers by the church is effective, peace and order would have been attained long time.

    Socretes Villegas and others, just wait for those criminals to die and pray for their soul. Talk no more, don’t be hypocrite. stay where you are. that’s better

  8. CBCP is ignorant of Christ who said he did not come to bring peace. What paradise he is talking about?

    It is absurd to lecture the police enforcers their own toned down version of the topic they learned from their course.

    Justice cries from heaven and that is putting the criminals where they belong – graveyard!

  9. To the writer of this editorial;
    I am a christian by faith and believes in all teaching of a good christian but destroying oneself by indulging in those drugs you are just as good as destroying the temple of God which is yourself. Yes God forgives the sinners according to the bible but thats beyond with our comprehensions that a mystery that was not completely explained. Let me expound more suppose there’s a war and you are there to protect the the country against who wants to destroy you is it against the belief to destroy them first before thety destroy you. Maybe it is more proper if you direct your advise to those who are christian but not practicing the way good christian should be.

  10. Protestant Filipino on


    “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” – Romans 13:4

    Obey God as He has given you authority to use the sword in Romans 13:4, not Archibishop Villegas.

  11. The Church can help by opening more drug rehabilitation centers. Sadly the Church which has outstanding charity works are lacking in some aspects. In some cases, they are under staffed and under resourced. It would do well the Church if they will walk and chew gum at the same time