Toll our bells, Cardinal Tagle says amid drug war killings

Paterno Esmaquel II
Toll our bells, Cardinal Tagle says amid drug war killings
Cardinal Tagle calls for the 5-minute tolling of church bells in the Archdiocese of Manila at 8 pm starting September 14


MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called for the tolling of church bells in the Archdiocese of Manila, as he issued his strongest written statement against drug-related killings in the Philippines.  

The Archdiocese of Manila covers cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay, San Juan, and Mandaluyong in the Philippines’ National Capital Region.

While slamming the “heartless violence” in the country, Tagle said in a letter to his archdiocese, “I also ask that beginning September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, there be a 5-minute tolling or ringing of our church bells at 8 in the evening to call on everyone to remember the dead and pray for them.”

“The tolling of church bells in the evening to pray for the dead is an old Filipino custom that has almost disappeared. Now is the right time to revive it,” the cardinal said. 

He also attached a briefer and prayer, in English and Filipino, in line with the tolling of church bells every 8 pm.

(Read the briefer and prayer in the Scribd document below)

Tagle’s letter on Friday, September 8, is his strongest written statement against drug-related killings in the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign. 

‘We cannot govern the nation by killing’

In this letter, Tagle said, “We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing.”

Tagle also urged Catholics “to intensify our solidarity with those who have been killed and to extend empathy and spiritual support to their families.”

“If there are cases of killings in your parish community, I ask our pastors and lay leaders to take time to go to the wake in order to bless the departed and to be one with the grieving families in sorrow and in hope,” the cardinal said. 

Other bishops earlier made similar calls to toll church bells in the evening in the face of widespread killings.

These bishops include Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, and San Jose, Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at