The Filipino bishops' conference takes a stand against President Duterte’s bloody drug war. Agreeing or allowing the killing of alleged drug users makes people responsible for the latter’s deaths. More than 7,000 extrajudicial killings have taken place in recent months.
Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – Filipino Catholic bishops call on the faithful to speak out against extrajudicial killings, stating that silence makes everyone an "accomplice" in the rising death toll from the government’s ongoing war on drugs.
"To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it,” the bishops said in a pastoral letter read during Sunday Masses. “Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent.”
The letter was sent to every Filipino parish after the annual plenary meeting that saw the bishops meet in Manila on the last week of January.
The prelates want all Filipinos to reject the culture of death that characterises the president’s war on drugs, a major problem in the Philippines.
After he took power in June 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said that there would be many dead until drug dealers are driven off the streets.
Since then, extrajudicial executions and police repression against drug users and dealers have grown dramatically, with more than 7,000 recorded deaths.
The president has denied that his administration is behind extrajudicial killings, and on several occasions he has launched tirades against the bishops and human rights activists for criticising his bloody drug war.
In their letter, the bishops say that they would continue “to speak "against evil" in a country "shrouded in the darkness of vice and death."
"We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us,” the letter goes on to say, “because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other”.
“We will help drug addicts so that they may be healed and start a new life. We will stand in solidarity and care for those left behind by those who have been killed and for the victims of drug addicts. Let us renew our efforts to strengthen families."
Although the bishops agree that the drug trade is a problem that must be dealt with, they point out that killing alleged drug dealers and users without due process is not the right solution. Killing, like drug dealing, is a grave sin.
Another cause of concern for them is the fact that “the reign of terror” is carried out in poor areas. “Many are killed not because of drugs,” and “Those who kill them are not brought to account”.
"We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong”.