Church ‘can’t remain silent’ on killings — bishop

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Relatives of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings speak during a press conference in Manila with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Dec. 14, 2016. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

MANILA, Dec. 15, 2016— A Catholic bishop said the Church cannot be silent  as the body count in the government’s war on drugs reached more than 6,000 in five months.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Church grieves with the families, especially the poor, who have lost loved ones without due process of law.

“We cannot afford to keep silent. This is another way of terrorizing the people. But now is really the time to speak,” said Pabillo, who chairs the bishops’ Commission on the Laity.

The prelate called on the public to act now against human rights abuses and not wait for more bodies to pile up.

“I hope we have learned from the EDSA experience. It is time to speak out now. Let us not wait again for 14 years before speaking out,” according to him.

He was referring to the span of years between 1972, when then president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, and 1986, before he was ousted in the historic EDSA People Power Revolution.

“Running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes said the war on drugs has ended so many lives and actions are needed in order to bring peace and justice.

“We will unite against those picking on the poor as being drug addicts. We will unite against those that are addicted to power. We will unite for life,” said Reyes.

The two church leaders spoke in a press conference in Manila yesterday for the “Panunuluyan,” a re-enactment of the search of Mary and Joseph for an inn to stay.

But this year, the activity, organized by the Urban Poor Associates (UPA), was staged to condemn the series of extrajudicial killings.

The organization appealed to President Duterte to put an end to summary executions, saying it has already brought fear in the poor neighborhoods.

“The sight of a neighbour drenched in his own blood brings indescribable traumas, especially in children, comparable to the effects of a tsunami. The culture of fear in our communities cripples our families,” it said.

“We have lost our right to a fair hearing. Are we being frightened so as to throw our unwilling support to the violent war that is destroying our communities?” said the UPA.

The group added that there is no better time than the Christmas season to finally cut short the spiral of drug-related violence, affecting people from mostly poor communities.

The UPA clarified they are not against the desire of government to solve the drug problem.

“It is the lawless approach with no recourse for our victim-neighbors that so appalls us,” added the urban poor.

“Real peace and progress are never achieved by disregarding the rule of law and due process, by disrespecting basic human rights and dignity, and perpetuating pervasive fear,” the group said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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