Top Catholic nuns back Duterte but reject killings

MANILA, Philippines – While backing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, leaders of Catholic nuns in the Philippines rejected the spate of killings that many have linked to Duterte's war against drug trafficking. 

"We support President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his administration's peace initiatives in the country and the programs to protect and preserve national sovereignty and patrimony," the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines (AMRSWP) said in a statement sent to reporters Monday, July 25.

The AMRSWP also said it backs "the empowerment and active participation" of the poor in governance.

The nuns, however, said in their statement: "Today we are alarmed at the increasing number of extrajudicial killings seemingly perpetrated in the name of the government’s drive to stop drug trafficking.  The execution of suspects, without due process of law, is a violation of their right to life, the most basic of all human rights."

"The AMRSWP believes in and upholds the principle of restorative justice, which can lead to transformation of people, relationships, and communities. Restorative justice is an expression of mercy and compassion – and this is not possible when the life of an offender is taken," the association said.

Catholic voices vs killings

The AMRSWP is a 47-year-old group composed of 91 women religious superiors from 76 congregations.

The association issued this statement, dated July 15, at the end of a convention in Nueva Ecija from July 11 to 15. In this statement, they also asserted their stance "against government programs, policies, and directives that diminish human life and violate the rule of law; perpetuate poverty, corruption, and contractualization; disregard human and women's rights; and endanger our 'common home.'"

This comes as other members of the Catholic Church also criticize the spate of killings happening under Duterte.

On Monday, for example, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Manila will gather for a Mass to pray for victims of the recent killings.

Before this, De La Salle Philippines president Brother Jose Mari Jimenez slammed the spate of killings, and questioned "the absence of a significant public outcry" against these.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also denounced the recent rise of "vigilantism" in the country.

Duterte vows a "bloody" war against criminals as he promises to suppress crime and corruption 3 to 6 months after assuming office on June 30. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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