MANILA, Feb. 5, 2017– Catholic bishops called on the faithful to speak out against summary killings, saying that silence makes them an ‘accomplice’ in the rising death toll of the war on drugs.
The Church leaders found disturbing the lack of strong rejection by many Filipinos of the daily killings in the country.
“To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it,” the bishops said in a pastoral letter read in all Masses on Sunday. “Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent.”
It’s the same thing, they said, that if people neglect the drug pushers and users “we have become part of the drug problem.”
“If we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths,” they said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly denied that his administration is behind the extrajudicial killings in the country.
In several occasions, he also launched profanity-laced tirades against the bishops and human rights groups for criticizing his bloody war on drugs that claimed over 7,000 lives in six months.
Acknowledging their own shortcomings, the bishops said they will continue to speak “against evil” in a country “shrouded in the darkness of vice and death.”
“We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other,” they said.
The pastoral letter came barely a week after the bishops from across the country gathered in Manila for their biannual plenary assembly.
‘Reign of terror’
While they agree that the narcotics trade needs to be stopped, they reiterated that killing suspected drug pushers and users and not giving them due process is not the solution to the problem.
The prelates said they are concerned not only for those who have been killed but also about the situation of the victims’ families whose lives “have only become worse.”
“An additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor. Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account,” they said.
Except for self-defense, the prelates said killing is a “grave sin” as to push illegal drugs.
“We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong,” they added.
The Church leaders also called on the government to get to the bottom of the drug problem and criminality–poverty and corruption.
“We must also give priority to reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges. The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality,” according to them.
Without naming Durerte in their letter, the bishops urged “elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests”.
“We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts,” they said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)