Bishop calls for end to ‘drug’ killings; Binay to be ‘tough vs crime’ but rejects death penalty
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines – Bishop Julito B. Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete has asked Catholics in this city to pray for and to take an active stance in ending extrajudicial killings in Negros Oriental.
Cortes said many of the extrajudicial killings in Negros Oriental that have been linked to the illegal drug trade, have remained unsolved.
Cortes issued on Tuesday an oratio imperata, which was launched during the Mass at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in Dumaguete City for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The oratio, which will be read in more than 70 parishes under the Dumaguete diocese, had an accompanying pastoral letter, asking the faithful to pray and openly campaign against violence and illegal drugs.
Among those who attended the Mass was Vice President Jejomar Binay who was on the second day of his four-day sortie in Negros Oriental that will end on Thursday.
Cortes said Binay and members of his senatorial slate asked that they be allowed to attend the Mass following a brief courtesy call on Wednesday morning that lasted about 10 minutes of casual talk.
Cortes earlier expressed concern over the spate of killings. The killings were mostly attributed to the illegal drugs trade.
Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria earlier told the bishop that at least 95 percent of all the shootings in the province were related to illegal drugs trade.
In his Homily, Cortes cited the 39 killings in Negros Oriental in 2014 and the 37 from January to October this year, to drive home the point that the killings in the city have reached an alarming rate.
The bishop said the police should be helped by the government, private sector and the residents in stopping the killings.
In a news conference in Dumaguete City, Binay said that if elected president, he would appoint his running mate, Senator Gregorio Honasan as “crime czar” due to his background in the military.
But Binay opposed the reimposition of the death penalty in the country, emphasizing that no one has the right to take another person’s life even for the cause of stopping crime.
Like Honasan, Binay vowed to protect the people’s right to life, liberty and property.
The vice president lauded Bishop Cortes whom he met for the first time for initiating a special prayer against extrajudicial killings.
During the Mass, Bishop Cortes led the congregation in praying the Oratio Imperata to end extrajudicial killings in the Diocese of Dumaguete.
The prayer seeks justice, love and comfort for the victims’ families.
“We pray for those involved in the illegal drug trade, the drug traffickers and their coddlers, the hired killers and drug users that they may experience a deep conversion of hearts, be drawn back to and recover their basic goodness,” the oratio imperata read.
The prayer hopes that law enforcement authorities will continue to uphold with integrity the rule of law and promote justice.
“We pray for all our Church and government leaders and all sectors of society, that they may rise above indifference and actively collaborate in efforts for political vigilance, civic education, virtue formation and moral ascendancy toward common good and a happy life,” it read.
The full text of the Oratio Imperata reads as follows:
“Heavenly Father, in Your great love
You created us in Your image and likeness and blessed us with the gift of life which we are to respect, protect and preserve.
“Yet, due to the darkness of sin, human dignity is at times, violated and a person’s fundamental right to life is desecrated.
“Compassionate Lord, we are deeply saddened by the extrajudicial killings in our towns and cities, mostly unsolved and drug-related.
“We, as Your People, are helpless in the face of this evil.
“With Your grace, come to our aid!
“By your power, put an end to these killings!
“We pray for the victims and their families that they may experience love and find comfort in Your compassion and in the promise of eternal life.
“We pray for those involved in the illegal drug trade, the drug traffickers and their coddlers, the hired killers and drug users that they may experience a deep conversion of hearts, be drawn back to and recover their basic goodness.
“We pray for the guardian of social order and law enforcement authorities that they may continue to uphold with integrity the rule of law and promote justice.
“We pray for all our Church and government leaders and all sectors of society, that they may rise above indifference and actively collaborate efforts in political vigilance, civic education, virtue formation and moral ascendancy toward common good and a happy life.
“Strengthen O Lord our families that they may truly be cradles of love and sanctuaries of life.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
“Mary, Mother of Life, intercede for us.” (With reports from Ador Mayol and Maya Jajalla, Inquirer Visayas). SFM
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