Help prevent bloodshed in war on drugs, Duterte tells Church
DAVAO CITY — Minus the cuss words that often went with his tirades against the Catholic Church, President Rodrigo Duterte challenged Church leaders to help prevent bloodshed in his war on drugs by taking the “preemptive move” of convincing drug suspects to reform.
During dinner with reporters here, his third, Mr. Duterte said priests and Church leaders could reach out to those who were on his list of drug suspects and talk them out of the drug trade. He said he would provide the list to priests, soon.
“They are alive, you talk to them and tell them they would end up in a very serious situation if they continued (involvement in drugs),” Mr. Duterte said, referring to drug suspects on his lists.
He said priests “easily condemn” his campaign against drugs but had done nothing to help. Church leaders, however, had expressed support for the antidrug campaign but denounced the summary killings associated with it.
Mr. Duterte also asked Church leaders to talk to village chiefs. Village chairs, he said, were not in the frontline of his war on drugs because “40 percent of them are involved in drugs.”
“You see? That’s how serious the problem is,” he added.
No more trust
“We are now a narcostate. You ask why I did not tap the barangay captains (village chiefs)? I cannot trust the idiots anymore,” the President said.
He said that because of the involvement of many village officials in drugs, he had to tap the military’s help in destroying drug factories and running after all drug suspects.
But Mr. Duterte repeated a clarification of his order — it did not include killing suspects.
He said suspects get killed only because they put up a violent fight.
“I don’t need to tell the military and police to do that,” he said. “They know what to do,” Mr. Duterte added.
“You can ask the military or the police in Manila if I ordered them to (kill drug suspects),” he said.
“If anyone of them stands up and say I ordered them to kill the poor and the children, I would resign because that would make me a liar,” Mr. Duterte said.
“That’s the truth,” he added.
He said the Church would always find fault in his antidrug campaign because of what he said were irreconcilable positions on how to deal with the drug menace.
“For them, it’s pity and not hatred,” the President said. “No response. But the law is not like that. It takes pity on you but at the same time punishes you by jailing you,” he said.
He also said the war on drugs did not target the poor.
“I am here to enforce the law,” Mr. Duterte said. —Frinston Lim and Allan Nawal
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