CBCP slams 'vigilantism' amid Duterte crime war

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday, June 20, slammed "vigilantism" in the face of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's war against crime in the country.

"God never gave up on us. We have no right giving up on ourselves or on our brothers and sisters," CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

Villegas added: "Jesus came to restore the harmony of Paradise. Let no one ever raise his hand against his brother or sister, for the blood that is shed – even if it be the blood of one we suspect of crime – cries to heaven for justice!"

He explained that bishops "are disturbed" that more and more suspected drug peddlers, pushers, and criminals "have been shot, supposedly because they resist arrest." One of them, Alfie "Buddy" Turado, was reportedly shot dead after allegedly trying to grab a gun from a policeman inside a police vehicle.

Duterte has said law enforcers can shoot suspected criminals who resist arrest.

Villegas also said it "is equally disturbing that vigilantism seems on the rise."

He cited media reports "of bodies, apparently of homicide or murder victims, showing up on whom placards announcing their supposed crimes are writ large."

'Report all forms of vigilantism'

The CBCP then offered the following moral guidelines for law enforcers:

In the CBCP statement, Villegas also reminded law enforcers that society counts on them for justice and fairness. 

He said bishops, too, "beg our prosecutors and judges to remain firm in their consecration to justice." He explained that "there can be no greater insult to the Creator than to use the gifts of intelligence, discernment, and one’s success at legal studies" for evil ends.

This CBCP statement comes as the Philippines is getting a taste of the anti-crime war that Duterte has vowed to launch once he assumes the presidency.

Across the nation police have already reported killing more than 20 alleged drug suspects in recent days, egged on by Duterte who has urged them to begin his war on crime even before he takes office on June 30. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/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.