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Priests can only listen to horrors of ‘nanlaban’

/ 07:16 AM August 24, 2017

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Senator Risa Hontiveros on protection of the witnesses to the killing of Kian Delos Santos during press conference in Manila.INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

If the confessional in Catholic churches could speak, they would reveal the horrors of the word “nanlaban (fought back).”

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan City said people afraid to go public had turned to the confessional to disclose how some suspects had been killed in cold blood during police operations.

“We have been hearing the reaction of people on those who fought back in police operations. There are witnesses in many instances in which the suspects did not fight back but were nevertheless killed,” David said.


“Unfortunately, they are afraid to testify. They could only say it in confession,” he said. “When we advise them to come out and testify, the most common response is ‘What about my family? We might be harmed.’”


The confidentiality guaranteed by the seal of confession prohibits David from further discussing what the witnesses had told the priests.

This was why, David said, he was glad that witnesses had come to testify against the Caloocan policemen who killed 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in Barangay 160 last week.

According to David, the cities in his archdiocese—Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas — have been “turned into killing fields” in the war on drugs.

“For the first time, because of the outpouring of support, families have summoned the courage to file a case and for witnesses to testify. I am happy that government agencies are now helping to resolve the case,” he said.

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TAGS: drug killings, extrajudicial killings, Pablo Virgilio David, war on drugs
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