Archbishop Villegas appeals to Pinoys’ sense of humanity amid killings
Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Friday broke his silence and appealed to the Filipinos’ sense of humanity amidst the spate of killings of suspected criminals.
“There is a little voice of humanity in us that I believe is disturbed by the killings; but that voice of disturbed humanity is drowned out by the louder voice of revenge or silenced by the sweet privileges of political clout,” he said.
The statement of Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, was posted on the website of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
The message, entitled “Let Humanity In Us Speak,” was meant to be read in place of the Sunday homily in all churches under the archdiocese.
Villegas told the Inquirer that the message was issued in his capacity as Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop and not as CBCP president, saying he wanted to “address the people of God during these trying times.”
This is the first time that a Church official of his stature issued a statement on the spate of killings as the Duterte administration waged a bloody war against illegal drugs.
Villegas lamented the deaths of suspected criminals, which have reached more than 500 in police operations and summary executions.
The Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop mourned the deaths of suspected criminals, saying every human is a brother or sister to him.
“For the killer and the killed I grieve. We become less human when we kill our brethren,” he said.
He added that he is overcome with grief at the thought that humans “do not mind killing criminals in the belief that their murders will lessen evil in the world.”
“I am a human being. That is all it takes for me to stand up and say, enough. The humanity in me is hurting each time a fellow human is hurt. A portion of my humanity dies when a fellow human dies,” he said.
Villegas stressed that he does not have to be a bishop or a Catholic to be disturbed by the jarring killings on the news.
“Lay aside the bishop’s robes and the CBCP position. I am only a human being. My humanity is in grief. I am in utter disbelief. If this is just a nightmare wake me up and assure me it is not true. This is too much to swallow,” he said.
He noted that only a few Filipinos seem to be disturbed by the killings in the past months, asking if the Philippines is becoming a “killing fields nation” in its dream to wipe out drug addiction.
While Villegas shares the dream of a Philippines without the drug menace, he questioned if killing suspected criminals without fair hearing “is a morally acceptable way to eradicate crime.”
“From a generation of drug addicts shall we become a generation of street murderers? Will the do-it-yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?” the archbishop asked.
He warned that even though the Philippines may end up a safer haven, children might be learning tolerance of murders.
“Is not humanity going down to the dregs when bloodthirsty humans encourage the killers and ask for more blood? When tears are replaced by wide smiles each time a human is killed, I shake my head and ask ‘What has happened to humanity?’ Can we still cry with those who cry?” Villegas said.
Villegas is hopeful that humanity will be restored and regained, so “that the killers may listen to the voice of conscience that has been dulled by the sight of too much blood everywhere.”
He added that he is ready to be “killed again and again on social media” for his beliefs.
Villegas lamented that a part of him has died a hundred times in every killing that he has seen in the past weeks.
“In this valley of death, I grieve. In the life after, I will rejoice. Barbarism will not have the last laugh. Reason will prevail. Humanity will win in the end,” he said.
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