Church network seeks justice system overhaul amid killings

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Students from Saint Paul University in Manila join a noise barrage to protest the rising number of drug suspects getting killed since President Duterte assumed office, Sept. 30, 2016. (Photo: CBCPNews)

MANILA, Oct. 17, 2016— The Catholic Church’s social action workers are calling for an overhaul of the judicial system to deliver speedy justice to victims, particularly in the light of an intensive government crackdown on illegal activities.

The lay, religious, and clergy members of the Social Action Network (SAN) said there may be factors that are causing dysfunctions in the fight against crime in the country.

They said the “very alarming” spate of summary executions could be an expression of “mistrust in our corrupted criminal justice system.”

“Impunity encourages disgruntled citizens to resort to criminality. Let there be overhaul of the Philippine criminal justice system to ensure the right of every Filipino to fair trial and security,” they said.

The network composed of diocesan social action centers organized in 86 dioceses expressed concern over the quick succession of drug-related killings in the light of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war campaign.

They said summary killings of suspected criminals, which are “morally unacceptable”, will deliver neither justice nor the security people seek and is a violation of human rights and of the rule of law.

More so, according to them, if the killings include innocent civilians.

“We cannot achieve a just and peaceful society through illegal, immoral, and fundamentally evil means,” they stressed.

What the country needs, they said, are efforts that would enhance investigations, ensure suspects are prosecuted in fair trials, and protect victims and witnesses from threats and intimidations.

The social action workers lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s political will to fight crime, adding they will support government agencies for the care and rehabilitation of drug dependents.

However, they said Duterte’s claim of protecting the people, especially the poor becomes merely lip service if summary killings continue.

“We call upon President Duterte to put a stop to extrajudicial violence,” they said. “Every suspect should be given a chance to defend themselves in court and ultimately, change their ways.”

“Respect of the dignity of life should always be a priority in any administration,” they said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews) 

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