PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s uncompromising stand on his bloody war on drugs and constant cursing is slowly drawing the country to international shame, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) lamented.
CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he is deeply “worried, confused and sad” because of the extrajudicial killings. The Philippine National Police had said that more than 3,000 people have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30.
“I am ashamed of the things I read about the Philippines in the international media and more ashamed of what I hear from our leaders when I watch local news,” Villegas said in a pastoral statement.
“I am sad that the cherished Filipino values maka- Diyos (pro-God), makatao (pro-people) and makabayan (pro-country) are slowly eroding to be replaced by an open license for cuss words, orchestrated lies and vulgarity never heard before,” the prelate added.
“I am in this endless grief at the killings I have seen and heard. The well is running dry and I can no longer give a word of condolence to the bereaved families because I also need to be assured even a bit that things will get better and not become worse even more.”
The pastoral message was released Sunday for the feast of our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Villegas stressed that something must be done to change the country’s downward course so that peace would be restored, harmony regained and civility and courtesy recovered.
He called on the faithful to pray the Holy Rosary everyday and to attend Mass daily.
“The rosary in our hands and on our lips are powerful weapons for our time. So simple we take for granted yet so powerful for world change,” Villegas said.
The prelate earlier said the Church supports the government’s campaign against all forms of criminality but it must be done in accordance with the rules of engagement, reason and value for human life.
Villegas also condemned the extrajudicial killing of drug suspects.
“If drugs indeed kill, will killing the suspects remove the menace? Are we providing our children a safe haven by teaching them by our tolerance of murders, that killing suspected criminals without fair hearing is a morally acceptable way to eradicate crime? From a generation of drug addicts shall we become a generation of street murderers? Will the do-it-yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?” he said.
The CBCP recommended to authorities a five-step guideline in dealing with criminals during operations, stressing that a “shoot to kill” order should only be resorted to for legitimate self-defense or in defense of civilians.
The CBCP also stressed that 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 offeror 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 pointed out.
Duterte has offered a reward of P5 million for every slain drug lord, and P3 million for those captured alive.
The CBCP also reminded the faithful of their moral duty to report all forms of vigilantism of which they have personal knowledge.