Religious superiors on killings: 'What have we done to deserve this?'
MANILA, Philippines – Describing drug-related killings as "pure madness," the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) called for an end to President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
Duterte's drug war "is no other than an extermination program of a section of our society," the AMRSP added in a statement published on the news website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday, August 29.
"What have we done to deserve this wrath? What have we done to this administration to deserve this sinister plot to desecrate our shared humanity, to kill our fellow human beings as if they were lambs being led to slaughter?" the AMRSP said.
Signed by AMRSP co-chairperson Father Cielito Almazan on August 21, the statement comes after 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos was allegedly framed up in a drug raid, sparking protests and fueling public outrage.
"There can be no rhyme nor reason for this madness," the AMRSP said, even as Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella earlier claimed otherwise.
The AMRSP also pointed out that many Filipinos "have quietly accepted this abomination" as it "has become noble" to kill.
"We all must confess our complicity to these senseless killings," the group said.
The AMRSP is composed of the religious superiors of around 89 male congregations and 266 female congregations in the Philippine Catholic Church.
Its members include the religious congregations that run the Philippines' leading Catholic schools – Jesuits (Ateneo), De La Salle Brothers (La Salle), Dominicans (University of Santo Tomas), and Missionary Benedictine Sisters (St Scholastica's College), among others.
Formed in 1972, the AMRSP was at the forefront of fighting abuses and injustices under the Marcos regime.
Decades later, it finds itself denouncing the killings under the Duterte administration, with the AMRSP having issued an earlier statement about this issue in August 2016.
In August 2016, the AMRSP said it was "alarmed at the silence of the government, groups, and majority of the people in the face of these killings."
Read the AMRSP's latest statement below:
"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" (Ez. 18:23)
What have we done? Who have we become?
Thirty-one children and youth will no longer see their future fulfilled. Death-dealers in bonnets or men in uniform have robbed them of their life.
The heavens have wept these past few days as the latest young life mercilessly executed, Kian Loyd delos Santos, lies cold in a coffin.
There can be no rhyme nor reason for this madness. This pure madness of extermination of all suspected drug users, drug pushers, and drug couriers. Sadly it is the poor who have borne the brunt of this war on drugs and crime.
And so many of us have quietly accepted this abomination – to kill has become noble. To kill has been applauded. We all must confess our complicity to these senseless killings.
What have we done to deserve this wrath? What have we done to this administration to deserve this sinister plot to desecrate our shared humanity, to kill our fellow human beings as if they were lambs being led to slaughter?
This cannot be what our God wishes for us.
Thirteen thousand senseless deaths cannot be the wish of a merciful Father. This bloodbath cannot be the imperative of our faith.
Who have we become O merciful and compassionate God?
Have we become the Romans who killed the Christians of the early times?
Have we become the Pilate who washed his hand of the fate of Christ?
Have we become the crowd who cheered at the sufferings of Jesus Christ?
We religious men and women resoundingly say NO! We believe that life, whether of the poor or the powerful, whether of the blighted communities or the exclusive subdivisions, is sacred! Extrajudicial killings assault the value of human life. We cannot be party to a war that kills and kills. We cannot accept a war that targets the poor and powerless.
We can no longer be silent and complicit in these mindless executions. Our faith demands of us mercy and compassion especially to those who have gone astray as a result of poverty and exclusion. To them we offer the comfort of a servant Church.
We implore the powerful to end this war on drugs which is no other than an extermination program of a section of our society.
Today we once again reaffirm our commitment to life, dignity, and rights for all!
Today we commit ourselves to seek justice for Kian and all victims of this war on drugs!