MANILA, Philippines – The 300,000-strong United Methodist Church in the Philippines slammed the killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, as this anti-drug campaign "kills the poor, not poverty."
"We are not opposed to the government's efforts to curb and eradicate the problem of illegal drugs," the United Methodist Church said in a statement set to be read in its churches on Sunday, September 10.
"But after having said that, we ought also to assert that since human beings are created in God's image, their lives are sacred and therefore everyone's right to life should be respected and protected by law, divine and human, especially the life of the innocent," the church said.
The United Methodist Church then made the following appeals:
The church also made the following recommendations:
The statement was issued by the Philippine Central Conference-Board of Church and Society (PCC-BCS) of the United Methodist Church.
It was signed by Bishop Ciriaco Francisco, the bishop assigned to the PCC-BCS; Reverend Genesis Antonio, chairperson; and Reverend Aniceto Villalon Jr, executive director.
The church statement will be read during their Sunday worship services in the Philippines on Sunday, according to the Office of the Bishop of the Manila Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church has more than 300,000 members across the country, based on statistics provided by the bishop's office.
In the statement that will be read on Sunday, the United Methodist Church also described the situation now as "frightening." (READ: Robredo on killings: 'Hindi ganito ang Pilipino')
The church said the killings have been perpetrated "by police and vigilantes agitated by President Duterte himself." (READ: Duterte on war on drugs: 'More killings to come')
"What is alarming is that, intentional and deliberate or not, President Duterte's war on drugs kills the poor, not poverty," the United Methodist Church said.
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.