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MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle condemned all forms of murder, from slaying drug suspects to aborting babies, as he broke his silence on the recent spate of killings in the Philippines.
Tagle also denounced the illegal drug trade – a way of "murdering" the youth's dreams – in one of his first public messages on the recent extrajudicial killings.
In a conference and interview quoted by Church-run Radyo Veritas on Sunday, August 28, Tagle pushed for the protection of all lives – "buhay ng kahit sino, hindi lamang buhay na gusto nating protektahan" (the lives of anyone, not only the lives we want to protect).
"Basta taong may buhay, kahit sino pa siya, ang buhay na 'yun ay sagrado. Alam ko na ngayon na ang malaking usapin ay ang nagiging mga pagpatay – sabi pati raw sa mga hindi guilty, sa mga inosente – pero kahit nga guilty man o hindi guilty, ang buhay ay dapat alagaan at igalang. At kung guilty, bigyan ng bagong buhay – pagkakataong makabangon mula sa lumang buhay," Tagle said.
(As long as one is alive, whoever he or she is, that life is sacred. I know that the big issue nowadays is the recent spate of killings – which, they say, afflicts even those not guilty, the innocent – but whether a person is guilty or not, life should be cared for and respected. And if a person is guilty, give him new life – the opportunity to rise from his old life.)
Tagle's statement comes as more than 750 people have been killed by police in anti-drug operations while more than a thousand have been slain by shadowy figures. (READ: Duterte offers P2-M bounty for cops into drug trade)
Cardinal hits abortion, too
Tagle told Radyo Veritas, "Ang Diyos ay Diyos ng buhay kaya dapat alagaan ang buhay. Pero marami worried sa extrajudicial killings. At dapat lang."
(God is a God of life so we need to protect life. But many are worried about extrajudicial killings. And rightfully so.)
The cardinal continued: "Sana naman worried din tayo sa abortion. Bakit kaunti ang nagsasalita against abortion? Pagpatay din 'yan. Unfair labor practices – isang uri rin 'yan ng pagpatay ng dangal ng manggagawa."
(I hope we're also worried about abortion. Why are only a few people speaking out against abortion? That's also murder. Unfair labor practices – that's also a form of murder against the dignity of laborers.)
He added, "'Yung tapon tayo ng tapon ng pagkain, kailangan munang nasa basura bago pupulutin ng iba at ipapakain sa pamilya nila, pagpatay din 'yan sa mga batang walang makain."
(Those wasting food, those putting food in the garbage can before others pick it up and feed it to their families, that is also a form of murder against children with nothing to eat.)
Tagle said: "Bantayan natin ang abortion; ang mga batang hindi pa naisisilang ay walang kalaban-laban. Ang pagtitinda ng bawal na gamot, ang pagtulak sa mga kabataan sa bisyo – 'yan ay isang uri din ng pagpatay ng kanilang pangarap, kaisipan, pagpatay ng kanilang magagandang pakikisama sa pamilya."
(Let's guard against abortion; children who haven't been born are helpless. Selling illegal drugs, pushing the youth to go into vices – that's also a form of murder against their dreams, their minds, their good relationships with their families.)
Tagle: Promote 'integral life'
"Be consistent to promote whole or integral life. Let us not be selective," he said.
Tagle, in the past, had been active in other issues involving life. These issues include the Catholic Church's fight against the Reproductive Health Law, a measure that legislates state funding for contraceptives.
Tagle now joins a growing number of religious groups and individuals that have criticized the recent killings in the Philippines:
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, as a whole, has not issued any statement on the killings since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30.
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 email@example.com.