Catholic leaders hit 'silence' vs PH killings

MANILA, Philippines – Stressing the sanctity of life, leaders of major Catholic congregations criticized the lack of public outcry against the recent drug-related killings in the Philippines.

"We are alarmed at the silence of the government, groups, and majority of the people in the face of these killings," the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) said in a statement dated August 17.

AMRSP added: "Evil prospers where good men are silent. Is this lack of public outcry a tacit approval of what is happening? Is it fear that prevents people from speaking out? Whatever the reason, this problem, if it remains unchecked, leads to a culture of impunity."

The statement was signed by AMRSP co-chairpersons Fr Cielito Almazan OFM and Sr Regina Kuizon, RGS, along with the group's vice-co-chairpersons and board members.

The group issued this statement as nearly 2,000 people have died in the face of the war on drugs waged by President Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa told a Senate inquiry this week that 1,946 people have died amid the war on drugs. 

Dela Rosa said police have shot dead 756 suspects in self defense.

He said there are another 1,190 killings under investigation, but added they were likely due to drug gangs murdering people who could implicate them. Dela Rosa also hailed the success so far in the crime war.

Government's 'determined crusade'

In their statement, the Catholic religious superiors said they support this "determined crusade" against illegal drugs.

"We admire the leadership that the President has taken in this campaign and the determination of the people under him in working to rid our society of such menace. The drug menace, indeed, is an intricate web of corruption and patronage that feeds on the insatiable greed and desire of people for money and more profit," the AMRSP said.

"Nevertheless, we are alarmed at the continued extrajudicial killings, which seem to go unchecked, without trial or investigation," it added.

The AMRSP explained: "As religious and consecrated persons, we believe in the sacredness of human life because its Author is God, and that no one has the right to take the life of anyone except God. We also believe that in the government of the state, the wheels of justice should take their course following the proper procedure within the bounds of the law."

Like the AMRSP, the following religious groups have also issued statements against the recent killings in the country:

International organizations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have also criticized these drug-related killings under Duterte. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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