police brutality

Bishop condemns Tarlac shooting: ‘No escape from God’s punishment’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Bishop condemns Tarlac shooting: ‘No escape from God’s punishment’
Tarlac Bishop Enrique Macaraeg says God promises justice, 'even if sometimes justice on earth is hard to find'

Tarlac Bishop Enrique Macaraeg condemned the killing of an unarmed mother and son in his province, as it “makes us bow in shame, guilt, and shock” ahead of Christmas.

Macaraeg, leader of more than 887,000 Catholics in the province of Tarlac, said the incident shows how “impunity has become ingrained” in the country. He said God, however, promises justice, “even if sometimes justice on earth is hard to find.”

“Whether posted on social media or done hidden without a witness, killing is a sin. God sees all these killings. There is no escape from God’s punishment. Killing is wrong. Murder is evil,” Macaraeg said in a statement posted by the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday, December 22.

Macaraeg joined other Catholic leaders in voicing outrage after Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shot Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son Frank, 25, during a neighborhood squabble in Paniqui, Tarlac, on Sunday, December 20.

While government officials labeled it an “isolated” incident, critics pointed out Nuezca’s track record – he faced two administrative cases involving homicide in 2019 – as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated promise to protect cops when they shoot outlaws dead.

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Like Macaraeg, Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio – who ministers to soldiers and policemen as head of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines – said the shooting incident was “uncalled for.”

“It’s a pity that we have people killed in this time of pandemic and in the season nearing Christmas,” Florencio said.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, vice president of the CBCP, also referred to the Tarlac shooting incident in a homily on Tuesday.

Matagal na tayong sumisigaw: ‘Stop the killings, start the healing.’ Ngayong nasa pandemya tayo, siguro kailangan baliktarin: ‘Start the healing? Stop the killings,'” David said.

(We’ve long been demanding: “Stop the killings, start the healing.” Now that we’re in a pandemic, perhaps we need to invert it: “Start the healing? Stop the killings.”)

The Catholic Church is one of the staunchest critics of the culture of impunity under the Duterte government. Duterte, in turn, has lashed out at Catholic leaders, once even threatening to behead any bishop “who is into drugs.” – Rappler.com