Killing druggies not policy? Bato’s tears won’t sway bishop
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David was not convinced by the tears Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa shed while claiming there is no standing policy to kill drug suspects.
For the 58-year-old prelate, who leads about 1.6 million Catholics in south Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas, actions speak louder than crocodile tears.
“These abuses are not isolated cases. These are policies,” said David, under whose jurisdiction two teenagers were killed in connection with the government’s antidrug war.
The latest was 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, a Cainta resident found dead in Caloocan, and Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, who was shot dead supposedly because he fired a weapon at policemen.
Two days after Delos Santos was killed, the National Capital Regional Police Office feted the Caloocan City police as one of Metro Manila’s best police offices.
“I’m not surprised that two days [after Kian’s death] they were receiving their award from Camp Crame,” the prelate said, criticizing the antidrug war as an ill-conceived program.
“You started your war without preparation, without analysis, without scientific study,” he said.
“For the life of me, I don’t know why these people have to be killed. If you are really bent on tracing the root source of the supply, you [should] keep them alive,” David added.
“When a crime is committed by your guardians, the protectors of the community, that is scary,” the bishop said. “We are pleading with government: For God’s sake, stop.”
“We are a nation of laws. We have due process. It’s like we are killing our democracy,” he said, urging policemen to restore the nobility of their profession.
“You cannot get rid of criminality in an equally criminal way,” David said, reminding policemen they are duty-bound to disobey illegal orders.
“Civil liberties in this country have not been suspended. Knock and plead, negotiate. [But] don’t enter, because you don’t have a search warrant. Don’t arrest, because you don’t have an arrest warrant,” he said.
The bishop said it was ironic that Delos Santos was killed on the very day the diocese was commemorating its patron, Saint Roch, who is invoked by the plague-stricken and falsely accused.
“[During] the time of San Roque, some leaders opted for extermination. I feel now that that is the vocabulary of the government: exterminate,” David said.
The bishop noted that Saint Roch refused to follow the wishes of evil leaders, and instead, cared for the plague-stricken and falsely accused.
After hearing about Delos Santos’ slay, the bishop took it to mean he was being called to follow Saint Roch’s lead and also fight for the afflicted.
“We should stand our ground and say addicts are not monsters. They remain as human beings. They are sick people with human rights. What they need is not punishment but care,” the bishop said. “Stop the killings, start the healing.”
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