Legazpi bishop, flock on killings: Have we become heartless?
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon and his flock voiced concern that people have grown numb to extrajudicial killings, mostly affecting poor people, as President Rodrigo Duterte wages a war on drugs.
Baylon and the priests, nuns and brothers, and lay leaders of the Diocese of Legazpi also called on Duterte to stop and investigate these killings.
In an open letter to Duterte posted by Radyo Veritas on November 27, Baylon and members of his diocese said: "Because of these killings, we are sadly witnessing a growing callousness among our people, accepting these as a fact of life; for they say, these persons were after all drug addicts, and therefore they deserved to die!"
They added: "What is happening to us? Have we become so heartless that we cannot anymore feel for them, their families, and those loved ones they have left behind?"
Duterte's war on drugs has killed at least 5,845 people since July 1, a day after the President took office.
Of this number, 3,841 died in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.
Golden opportunity 'slipping away'
In their open letter, Baylon and his flock said they fully support Duterte's war on drugs, and that with Duterte, they "dream of a drug-free Philippines where our young are able to freely fulfill their dreams."
"Recent events, however, make us suspect that this golden opportunity may be slowly slipping away. It seems to us too much focus is put on the eradication of the drug problem, and the solution lies merely in the killing of drug suspects," they said.
They added, "Most of all, it saddens us to see that the majority of the victims of this war against drugs are the very same poor whose lives you promised to protect and alleviate from the shackles of abject poverty."
Baylon and members of the Diocese of Legazpi asserted that killing "is morally and legally wrong."
The Diocese of Legazpi is ringing the bells of its churches at 9 pm every evening "to call our people to prayer, to ask God to bless us all with His grace of mercy and compassion" in the face of these killings.
On December 9, Baylon also addressed extrajudicial killings in his homily, as he said, "We don't have the right to take the precious lives of the people."
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier urged law enforcers to respect human rights, saying that murder "is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance." – Rappler.com