The Archbishop of Manila revives the tradition of the bells tolling in the evening to remember the dead. "We cannot promote a human and decent Filipino culture with killing." The appeal to pastors and lay people for solidarity with the victims and their families counter to the campaign of "cleanliness" launched by President Duterte.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "You can not govern with killing". These are the words of Card. Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas Internationalis. He is inviting parish priests to toll church bells for five minutes in the evening, starting on September 14 (Feast of the Cross Exaltation of the Cross), to remember and pray for all the victims of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.
"The tolling of church bells in the evening to pray for the dead is an old Filipino custom that has almost disappeared. Now is the right time to revive it,” he said in a letter issued on Friday, the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
Card. Tagle calls on pastors and lay leaders to intensify their solidarity with the victims and their families, finding time to bless the dead and grieve with those who have been left behind.
“With pain and horror we continue to get daily news of killings around the country. We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing,” Tagle lamented.
After winning the presidency in July last year, President Duterte launched an unprecedented war on the illegal drug trade with the promise to kill tens of thousands of criminals. The Catholic Church is among the few voices that denounce the deaths, in spite of the polls revealing the popularity of the Philippine president. In response to criticisms of extrajudicial killings, Duterte has repeatedly launched strong attacks on bishops and priests.
During the 14 months of administration, some 8,000 suspected drug users or drug dealers have lost their lives during security operations. The police confirmed the killing of more than 3,500 people, insisting on having acted in self-defense. More than 2,000 people have been killed in drug crimes and thousands are still murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police figures.