The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Monday several law enforcers behind drug-related killings had sought the Church’s sanctuary and protection.
“They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extra-judicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them,” said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the outgoing CBCP president, in a statement.
Villegas said the Church would grant accommodation, shelter and protection for the policemen and their families, and allow them to testify in court.
“We will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories,” he said.
“Every means must be provided for a fair, accurate and unconstrained or unrestrained testimony that may be used in evidence,” he added.
‘Bato’ not mad
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa on Monday said he had no problem with policemen who ran to the Church to “confess” their alleged participation in extra-judicial killings.
“It’s okay. It’s good that they will come out. We have no problem with that. Everyone is after truth and justice,” he in a chance interview after attending the Senate investigation into the deaths of teenagers Kian Loyd de los Santos and Carl Arnaiz during alleged drug operations.
“In fact, I’m happy that they are brave enough to tell the truth—if they will really say the truth,” the PNP chief added.
Sen. Grace Poe also welcomed the willingness of policemen to speak about their involvement in the killings.
“And I laud the Church in opening its arms wide to provide sanctuary for them. Traditionally the Church offers sanctuary for those who need protection from political persecution,” she said in a text message.
Fr. Robert Reyes, who was invited as a resource person during the probe, said priests would not join policemen in their drug operations under “Oplan Tokhang” or “Double Barrel” as suggested by the PNP.
“Our conscience dictates that we should not legitimize [that]operation from the very beginning. We decided the war on drugs is immoral. You do not solve a health issue with police force. A drug addict is sick. He needs medical or psychiatric attention,” Reyes said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs who is leading the probe, urged Reyes to present the policemen who had decided to seek the protection of the Church.
Reyes replied: “The problem is that they are afraid to come out.”