MANILA, Philippines – Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani on Wednesday, January 18, questioned the silence of many Filipinos about the recent killings in the war on drugs waged by the Philippine government.
Bacani compared this attitude to the world's silence about the abuses of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, under whom Nazi Germany slaughtered some 6 million Jews by the end of World War II.
In a speech at the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM), the bishop cited the deaths of more than 6,000 people in the government's war on drugs.
Bacani said: "6,000 people and going. And the Filipino people keep quiet like in the time of Hitler? How can this be?"
To drive home his point, Bacani recounted the "uproar on social media" against the killing of a dog in the making of the movie Oro, an entry at the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival.
Citing a letter to the editor addressed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he said that "there is more uproar over the killing of a dog than over the killing of 6,000 people."
'Uphold rights of human beings'
During his speech, Bacani also sought to draw attention to the spiritual aspect of the recent killings.
He remembered a priest telling him: "Bishop, you know what pains me? It's not only those people lost their lives. But if they were sinners, then they were killed in their sleep. They have no time to repent. Now they would be condemned not to jail but to eternal fire."
Alarmed at the drug-related killings, Bacani reminded the public, "Even as we proclaim the mercy of God, let us with boldness – I repeat, with boldness – also uphold the rights of human beings, even of the most miserable."
"As we proclaim life, let us boldly reject merciless ways of dealing with the most miserable, including our drug addicts," he said.
At the same time, Bacani also criticized the Philippine National Police for failing to catch the killers of more than 4,000 suspected drug pushers and users in cases outside police operations.
Like Bacani, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo also hit the recent Philippine killings.
WACOM is a 5-day gathering of devotees of the Divine Mercy, which is hosted by the Philippines this year. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of 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 him at email@example.com.