Tagle, Villegas speak out vs new drug war killings

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines' two most influential Catholic leaders spoke out against the new spate of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, as more and more Filipinos also denounce this bloodbath.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), released separate statements on Saturday, August 19, about the recent killings.

In a letter to his archdiocese, Tagle said: "We knock on the consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity. We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives."

Tagle then called on all parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila to offer prayers at Mass – from August 21 (Memorial of St Pope Pius X) to August 29 (Memorial of the Beheading of St John the Baptist) – for victims of the drug war, their families, and their killers, as well as those recovering from drug addiction. 

In his own message, Villegas said he is instructing all churches in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to ring their bells continuously from 8 to 8:15 pm – starting on August 22 (Feast of the Queenship of Mary) until November 27 (Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal).

Villegas said: "Ang tunog ng kampana ay tinig ng Diyos na sana ay gumising sa konsensiyang manhid at bulag. Huwag kang papatay! Kasalanan 'yan! Labag sa batas 'yan! 'Yan ang sabi ng kampana!" 

(The sound of the bells is the voice of God that we hope will wake up numb and blind consciences. You shall not kill! That is a sin! That is against the law! That is what the bell is saying!)

The bishops' statements come after a series of drug raids killed at least 81 people – including 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos – in only 4 days. (READ: Kalookan bishop slams killing of 17-year-old boy in drug war

Read the full text of Archbishop Villegas' statement below:

NO TO KILLINGS. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas questions why only few Filipinos weep for the victims of recent killings in the war on drugs.

File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Ang gulo ng bayan!

Parami nang parami ang mga ulila sa magulang, sa asawa, at sa anak. Pakiusap na "Huwag po!" naririnig sa mga eskinita at tambakan. Patayan sa magdamag. Panaghoy at hikbi sa madaling araw galing sa mga ulila. Ang multo ng mga pinatay ay humihingi ng awa. Ang isip ng mga buhay ay puno ng lungkot at takot. "Baka ako na ang isusunod? Sino ang nakatitiyak?"

Ang gulo ng bayan!

Ang opisyal na pumatay ay may parangal. Ang pinatay ay sinisisi.  Hindi na  makapagpaliwanag ang mga bangkay sa bintang sa kanila. "Nanlaban kasi." Hindi na nila masabi, "Nagmakaawa po ako, hindi ako lumaban!" Sino ang magtatanggol sa kanila?

Kung may tatlumpu at dalawang patay daw araw-araw ay gaganda ang ating buhay… at ang mga kababayan ay tumatango sa pagsang-ayon. Pumapalakpak ang kababayan at sumisigaw nang may ngiti – "Dapat lang!" – habang binibilang ang bangkay sa dilim, habang bumabaybay sa kaliwa't kanang lamay sa patay.

Pagpatay daw ang lunas sa lahat ng kasamaan. Pagpatay daw ang dapat para sa taong sinira ng droga. Ang bayang ayaw daw sa droga ay dapat na pumayag na patayin ang pusher. Kapag nanindigan para sa dukhang na-TokHang, tiyak na maliligo ka sa mura at banta. Marami naman ang nagpapatakot!

Ito na ba ang bagong tama?

Bakit kakarampot na lamang ang kababayang naaawa sa mga ulila? Hindi na ba tayo marunong umiyak? Bakit hindi na tayo nasisindak sa tunog ng baril at agos ng dugo sa bangketa? Bakit walang nagagalit laban sa drogang ipinasok galing Tsina? Bakit ang mga mahihirap na lang lagi ang binabaril at kapag mayamang "malakas sa itaas" ay kailangan muna ng imbestigasyon at affidavit?

Ang gulo ng bayan! May maling nangyayari sa bayan!

May dapat iwasto sa bayan! May dapat pagsisihan ang bayan! Humingi tayo ng tawad sa Diyos.

Sabi ng Banal na Kasulatan: "Kung ang aking bayan na tinatawag sa pamamagitan ng aking pangalan ay magpakumbaba at dumalangin, at hanapin ang aking mukha, at talikuran ang kanilang masamang mga lakad; akin ngang didinggin sa langit, at ipatatawad ko ang kanilang kasalanan, at pagagalingin ko ang kanilang lupain." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

May pagkukulang tayo sa Diyos kaya may gulo at dugo. May dapat tayong gawing tama upang manumbalik ang paghahari ng Diyos sa ating bayan. Hindi likas sa atin ang matuwa sa patayan.

Nang dahil dito…

Simula ikadalampu at dalawa ng Agosto (Agosto 22), Pista ni Mariang Reyna ng Sanlibutan, ang lahat ng KAMPANA sa LAHAT NG SIMBAHAN SA LINGAYEN-DAGUPAN ay IBABAGTING SIMULA ALAS OTSO NG GABI SA LOOB NG BUONG KINSE MINUTOS NANG TULOY TULOY. Gagawin natin ito hanggang ikadalawampu at pito ng Nobyembre (Nobyembre 27) pista ng Birhen Medalya Milagrosa.

Ang pagkampana tuwing alas otso sa loob ng kinse minutos ay alay na panalangin para sa mga pinatay. Matanggap nawa nila ang kapayapaang hindi nila naranasan noong sila ay nabubuhay pa.

Ang tunog ng kampana ay tinig ng Diyos na sana ay gumising sa konsensiyang manhid at bulag. Huwag kang papatay! Kasalanan 'yan! Labag sa batas 'yan! 'Yan ang sabi ng kampana!

Ang bagting ng kampana ay tawag ng paggising sa bayang hindi na marunong makiramay sa ulila, nakalimutan ng makiramay at duwag na magalit sa kasamaan. Ang tunog ng kampana ay tawag na ihinto ang pagsang ayon sa patayan!

Ibalik natin ang pagiging tao. Ibalik natin ang dangal Pilipino. Ikampana ang dangal ng buhay! Ikampana ang karapatan ng mga pinapatay na mahihirap!

Read the full text of Cardinal Tagle's statement below:

DRUG WAR. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says no single group 'could claim to have the only right response' to the drug menace.

File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Archdiocese of Manila,

On August 12-17, 2017, I participated in the meeting of Caritas Latin America held in El Salvador, a country where many people had been killed in a civil war. Until now it still contends with armed groups. In El Salvador, I heard news of the increase of killings in our own country due to an intensified war against illegal drugs. I am inviting you to reflect, pray, and act.

First, all Filipinos agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. We must face and act upon together, as one people. Unfortunately, it has divided us. Given the complexity of the issues, no single individual, group, or institution could claim to have the only right response. We need one other. We cannot disregard each other. 

Let us invite families, national government agencies, local government units, people’s organizations, schools, faith-based communities, the medical profession, the police and military, recovering addicts etc. to come together, listen to each other, and chart a common path. 

The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us. The Archdiocese of Manila would be willing to host such multi-sectoral dialogue.

Secondly, to understand the situation better, we need not only statistics but also human stories. 

Families with members who have been destroyed by illegal drugs must tell their stories. Families with members who have been killed in the drug-war, especially the innocent ones, must be allowed to tell their stories. Drug addicts who have recovered must tell their stories of hope. Let their stories be told, let their human faces be revealed. 

We knock on the consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity. 

We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives. Recall the words of God to Cain who killed his brother Abel, "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil" (Genesis 4:10). 

Those with sorrowful hearts and awakened consciences may come to your pastors to tell your stories and we will document them for the wider society. 

I call on all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila to mark the 9 days from August 21 (Memorial of St. Pope Pius X) to August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist) as time to offer prayers at all masses for the repose of those who have died in this war, for the strength of their families, for the perseverance of those recovering from addiction and the conversion of killers.

Finally, let us conquer evil with good (Romans 12:21). Let us save the lives of people most vulnerable to drug dependency: the youth, the poor and unemployed. Words of solidarity without tears and acts of compassion are cheap. 

I enjoin our parishes and vicariates to commit again to the parish-based drug rehabilitation program of the Archdiocese of Manila called Sanlakbay in partnership with the local government and police. I ask the Basic Ecclesial Communities and other organizations of the lay faithful to care for our neighborhoods in coordination with our partners.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you kindly and grant you peace!" (Numbers 6:24-26)

– 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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