St Scho sisters to Duterte admin: Probe killings

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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St Scho sisters to Duterte admin: Probe killings
While supportive of President Duterte's 'determined and single-minded crusade against the illegal drug trade,' the Missionary Benedictine Sisters 'condemn the arrogation by law enforcers of powers that do not belong to them'

MANILA, Philippines – Nuns running St Scholastica’s College, one of the leading Catholic schools in Manila, urged the Duterte administration to investigate the recent extrajudicial killings linked to the Philippine government’s war on drugs. 

In a statement, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of the Manila Priory made the following appeals to the Duterte administration:

  • “State categorically that extrajudicial killings are not part of the campaign against illegal drugs.” 
  • “Stop promising or giving rewards for every drug user or trafficker killed, or setting quotas of drug arrests or surrenderees.”
  • “Investigate the killings to determine their legitimacy.”
  • “Punish those who are found guilty of summary killings.”

This statement was published as a letter to the editor in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday, August 19.

It was signed by Sister Adelaida Ygrubay, OSB, prioress of the St Scholastica’s Priory of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters based in Manila.

St Scholastica’s College, which the Benedictine sisters run, is known for its activist leaders and alumni, such as former college president Sister Mary John Mananzan and Senator Risa Hontiveros.

The Benedictine sisters’ statement comes as more than 650 drug suspects have been killed in police operations across the Philippines since July. The Philippine National Police is also investigating almost 900 other killings linked to the drug crisis. 

Sisters hit ‘executioners’

The nuns began their statement with the premise that they “are supportive” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “determined and single-minded crusade against the illegal drug trade.”

“We are, however, appalled at the ever-increasing number of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by law enforcers themselves or by vigilantes in this crusade,” the Benedictine sisters said.

They stressed that “the end does not justify the means.”

They also said that both victims and perpetrators “have human rights.” This means judgment on them “should go through due process.”

“We condemn the arrogation by law enforcers of powers that do not belong to them, by virtue of which they have made themselves judges and executioners,” the sisters said.

They added: “We believe that the right to life is the most basic of human rights and is the foundation on which all other human rights are built upon. It is God’s greatest gift and should be held sacred by all.”

By issuing this statement, the Benedictine sisters join the following religious groups and personalities condemning the recent killings in the Philippines:

Duterte, however, said of his war on drugs: “I will appear like an enemy, or with stained hands, maybe soaked in blood, but there is no way to stop it now.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email