More bishops call for tolling of bells vs drug war killings

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
More bishops call for tolling of bells vs drug war killings
The bishops of Cagayan de Oro, Cubao, Bacolod, and San Jose in Nueva Ecija ask churches to toll their bells against drug-related killings in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – More Catholic bishops called for the tolling of church bells to condemn the recent killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco followed the lead of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas in making this move against drug-related killings.

The Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, led by Bishop Roberto Mallari, also called on churches to do as Villegas suggested. 

The Diocese of Bacolod, led by Bishop Patricio Buzon, will make the same move, according to a diocese spokesman quoted by SunStar. 

In a statement Monday, August 28, Ledesma explained: “These summary killings and violations of human rights cannot be justified by invoking the greater common good – which our recent history teaches us will only lead to greater recourse to arms and authoritarianism and a worsening malaise in society.” 

Ledesma urged all churches and communities in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro to ring their bells at 8 o’clock every evening, and to say prayers for the dead.

“Let this be our sign of protest against extrajudicial killings in the ‘war on drugs.’ Let this also be our call to prayer until the end of martial law – in  solidarity with all the affected families in the Marawi crisis, especially those who have lost loved ones,” Ledesma said.

‘Strongest condemnation’

In a separate statement on August 22, Ongtioco also asked all parishes in his diocese “to ring our church bells every 8 pm for 5 minutes starting August 22 until August 29.” 

“Let the ringing of bells also signify the diocese’s strongest condemnation of the continuation of these killings which is being justified as necessary in the war against drugs,” Ongtioco said.

“While we acknowledge the evilness of drugs we vehemently disagree with the ‘proposed solution’ to eradicate this problem – a solution that has no regard for due process, for human rights and for human life.”

In San Jose, Nueva Ecija, the 8 pm tolling of bells started on August 27. In Bacolod, it started on August 22.

The bishops’ statements come as the Catholic Church remains at the forefront of criticism against the drug war killings, which were recently intensified by the police. (READ: Ateneo priests, La Salle brothers hit drug war killings

Among those killed in the recent drug raids was 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, allegedly a frame-up victim

Earlier, Villegas, who is also outgoing president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, made a similar call for his archdiocese.

In a message on August 19, Villegas said he is instructing all churches in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to ring their bells continuously from 8 to 8:15 pm – starting on August 22 (Feast of the Queenship of Mary) until November 27 (Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal).

“Ang tunog ng kampana ay tinig ng Diyos na sana ay gumising sa konsensiyang manhid at bulag. Huwag kang papatay! Kasalanan ‘yan! Labag sa batas ‘yan! ‘Yan ang sabi ng kampana!” Villegas said.

(The sound of the bells is the voice of God that we hope will wake up numb and blind consciences. You shall not kill! That is a sin! That is against the law! That is what the bell is saying!) –

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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