Caloocan bishop: 'Stop the killings, for heaven's sake!'
MANILA, Philippines – The death of teenage student Kian Delos Santos should be a "wake-up call" for government, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan City said on Saturday, August 26.
“In this Mass, we would like to cry out to the authorities in government: Enough with the killings! Stop the killings, for heaven’s sake!” David said In his homily at the funeral mass of Delos Santos at the Sta Quiteria Parish Church in Caloocan.
“Let us help out in addressing this problem of illegal drugs properly, but not in a manner that has no respect for the law,” he added.
David called out the Duterte government for its “cruel and simplistic solution” of “exterminating" drug suspects. (READ: Groups seek end to drug war killings as Kian delos Santos buried)
He said illegal drugs will continue to flood the country “if there is no systematic effort” to trace the source.
Delos Santos was shot dead after allegedly engaging cops during an anti-drug operation in the boy's community on August 16.
CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts contradicted police reports because it showed the teenager being dragged by two cops before he was found dead.
David said the government’s approach to illegal drugs should be discussed. He said the church was willing to sit down with the authorities and discuss the issue "reasonably."
He said authorities must first change the way they look at suspected drug users as "vermin, as non-humans."
“Addiction is a disease; let us please address it as a health issue!” said David.
“We can work together for the healing of addicts through community-based rehabilitation programs. But more importantly, let us heal the divisions, the conflicts, and the exchanges of cruel words. Let us rid ourselves of anything that diminishes our humanity,” he added.
It was the second time for the bishop to officiate a funeral mass for an alleged victim of summary execution in his diocese. He had earlier decribed his diocese as a "killing field" in the drug war.
On April 9, the bishop officiated the funeral mass of 19-year-old Raymart Siapo, who was abducted and killed by bonnet-wearing men in Navotas City after a neighbor accused of peddling marijuana. (READ: LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte drug war)
Amid the spate of killings, the bishop set up a human rights council to monitor and investigate cases of drug-related killings in his diocese.
David lauded the parents of Delos Santos, Saldy and Lorenza, for having the courage to file murder charges against policemen involved in the killing of their son.
“You can’t imagine how many people you have touched with your courage to make a stand,” David said. He prayed that more people will come out “so that the souls of their loved ones…will finally be laid to rest.”
The prelate also assured Delos Santos' parents that their son's life had not been wasted, even if it was cut short by “senseless violence and cruelty."
“It is not wasted because it has served as a thorn that has pricked the conscience of our people and has awakened them from moral slumber,” he said. – Rappler.com