Don Bosco priests hit killings in Philippines

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Don Bosco priests hit killings in Philippines
'We are alarmed by the recent wave of extrajudicial killings that have taken place at the hands of police officers,' the Salesians of Don Bosco say in a statement

MANILA, Philippines – Known for their schools and centers for the youth, Don Bosco priests in Luzon joined other Catholic voices in condemning the recent spate of killings in the Philippines. 

In a statement, the Salesians of Don Bosco Philippine Northern Province said, “We are alarmed by the recent wave of extrajudicial killings that have taken place at the hands of police officers, and especially of vigilantes roaming our streets unchecked and unapprehended.”

“Such violent procedure in tackling the situation mentioned above has caused justified apprehension among the majority of our citizens who are against any form of drug trafficking but expect justice to be rendered according to law,” said the Salesians, also known as the Society of St Francis de Sales.

The Salesians issued their pastoral statement on extrajudicial killings after their Rectors’ Meeting on August 2, said their provincial superior, Father Anthony Paul Bicomong.

In their statement, the Salesians also said they support the campaign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “against all forms of illegal drug trafficking, and especially against drug lords and drug pushers.”

“We share his perception that many law enforcers and our present judicial systems have often failed to bring to justice the perpetrators of such heinous crimes which, in an  ever-greater degree, been victimizing millions of our young people and their families,” the Salesians said.

They also shared Duterte’s view that law enforcement agencies, as well as the whole Philippine justice system, has “failed to stop the spread of the use of illegal drugs, especially among the young.”

‘Serious, irreparable injustices’

Bicomong said the Salesians of the Northern Province, however, issued their statement because of the “killings of hundreds of suspected drug pushers and other people allegedly connected to illegal drug trafficking.”

Since Duterte assumed office on June 30, police have reported killing more than 400 drug suspects, while ABS-CBN News put the death toll at 852 to include reported summary executions.

The Salesians said stakeholders should avoid “any attitude or course of action that disregards the basic principles…that any person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that justice has to be rendered by following due process.”

“We believe, likewise, that the disregard of such principles, even in the pursuance of a praiseworthy aim, such as the protection of families and of the youth, may inevitably lead to serious and irreparable injustices such as the killing of innocent people, and even simple drug users who are, actually, the direct victims of the drug traffickers/pushers,” the Salesians said.

They added: “We firmly demand that all concerned government agencies actively pursue and apprehend all those involved in drug trafficking, but avoid and prevent all extrajudicial killings. They should likewise pursue and apprehend all anonymous vigilantes who carry out such illegal actions.”

Earlier, the following Catholic groups and individuals had taken turns in slamming the recent killings:

Previously, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines also issued a statement against the rise of vigilantism in the country. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email