United Methodist Church slams killings in Duterte's drug war
MANILA, Philippines – The 300,000-strong United Methodist Church in the Philippines slammed the killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, as this anti-drug campaign "kills the poor, not poverty."
"We are not opposed to the government's efforts to curb and eradicate the problem of illegal drugs," the United Methodist Church said in a statement set to be read in its churches on Sunday, September 10.
"But after having said that, we ought also to assert that since human beings are created in God's image, their lives are sacred and therefore everyone's right to life should be respected and protected by law, divine and human, especially the life of the innocent," the church said.
The United Methodist Church then made the following appeals:
- "Stop killing the poor and the innocent"
- "Stop drug-related killings"
- "Stop extrajudicial killings"
- "Oppose the imposition of death penalty"
The church also made the following recommendations:
- "Opening our churches, institutions, and facilities as sanctuaries for people who are victims of illegal drugs"
- "Letting our pastors and lay people to engage in extending our ministry to the victims of illegal drugs, including their families"
- "Speaking prophetically in these trying times"
- "Expressing our belief that life is sacred and should be respected and protected"
- "Calling the government to address the roots of the problem of illegal drug abuse. It must provide sufficient medical and social support for drug-dependent persons – employment, social reintegration, and other support mechanisms. The socio-economic conditions that allow the proliferation of illegal drugs in poor communities should also be addressed decisively."
The statement was issued by the Philippine Central Conference-Board of Church and Society (PCC-BCS) of the United Methodist Church.
It was signed by Bishop Ciriaco Francisco, the bishop assigned to the PCC-BCS; Reverend Genesis Antonio, chairperson; and Reverend Aniceto Villalon Jr, executive director.
The church statement will be read during their Sunday worship services in the Philippines on Sunday, according to the Office of the Bishop of the Manila Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church has more than 300,000 members across the country, based on statistics provided by the bishop's office.
In the statement that will be read on Sunday, the United Methodist Church also described the situation now as "frightening." (READ: Robredo on killings: 'Hindi ganito ang Pilipino')
The church said the killings have been perpetrated "by police and vigilantes agitated by President Duterte himself." (READ: Duterte on war on drugs: 'More killings to come')
"What is alarming is that, intentional and deliberate or not, President Duterte's war on drugs kills the poor, not poverty," the United Methodist Church said.
The United Methodist Church joins other religious groups, such as the Catholic Church and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, in criticizing Duterte's bloody war on drugs. (READ: Where the drug war began) – Rappler.com