Christian churches: ‘Stop the killings, Mr President!’

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Christian churches: ‘Stop the killings, Mr President!’
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines asks why 'he who expressed disdain over Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos would now tolerate impunity'

MANILA, Philippines – The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) joined the call for President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the killings under his watch, as more than 5,900 people have died in Duterte’s war on drugs.

The NCCP also denounced the death penalty, which Duterte has vowed to restore through his allies in Congress.

The NCCP was bold in the title alone of its statement on Monday, December 12: “Stop the killings, Mr President!”

“What manner is this that he who expressed disdain over Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos would now tolerate impunity? There can be no ‘shortcuts’ by abandoning the rule of law, the equal protection of the law, and the resolve to get to the bottom of the social inequality and injustice stalking the land,” the NCCP said in its statement for International Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10.

Founded in 1963, the NCCP describes itself as “the largest non-Catholic church organization in the Philippines.”

The NCCP lists the following as its members:

  • Apostolic Catholic Church (founded in 1992)
  • Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (1935)
  • Episcopal Church in the Philippines (1901)
  • Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (1909)
  • Iglesia Filipina Independiente (1902)
  • Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal (1995)
  • Lutheran Church in the Philippines (1946)
  • The Salvation Army (1937)
  • United Church of Christ in the Philippines (1948)
  • The United Methodist Church (1898)

The group also includes the following as associate members:

  • Association of Christian Schools and Colleges
  • Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rurban Development
  • Ecumenical Church Foundation Inc
  • Lingap Pangkabataan Inc
  • Kaisang Buhay Foundation Inc
  • Manila Community Services Inc
  • Philippine Bible Society
  • Student Christian Movement of the Philippines
  • Union Church of Manila

In its statement, the NCCP also said it “deplores the attempts to restore the death penalty.” (READ: A lethal mix? Death penalty and a ‘flawed, corrupt’ justice system)

“Sadly, even without the death penalty, violence against life is unabated,” it said.

“The NCCP likewise expresses its opposition to attempts to reduce the age of criminal liability. Both seem to indicate that government is off to a punitive direction rather than restorative justice that respects the sanctity of life,” the group added.

Recently, the two most influential leaders of the Catholic Church – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas – also voiced their opposition to the death penalty.

Lawmakers at the House of Representatives aim to pass a death penalty bill on 3rd and final reading before Christmas. An opposition lawmaker, however, believes the House lacks the numbers.

The chances of the death penalty bill in the Senate, meanwhile, are still unclear– Rappler.com

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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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com