Grieving Bishop Soc: Enough of killings; let our humanity speak
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has appealed to the Filipinos’ sense of humanity amid a spate of drug killings across the country.
“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,” Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in a statement posted on the website of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan late on Friday.
The statement, titled “Let Humanity in Us Speak,” will be read in place of the Sunday homily in all churches in the archdiocese today.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Villegas said he issued the statement in his capacity as Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop and not as CBCP president. He said he wanted to “address the people of God during these trying times.”
The message marks the first time a high-ranking Catholic Church official has spoken about the unabated killing of drug suspects in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Villegas lamented the killings, which have numbered more than 600 in the five weeks that Mr. Duterte has been in office.
Mourning the deaths, Villegas said every human being was 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.
‘I’m only human’
He said he was overcome with grief at the thought that people “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. [Part] 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 almost daily news about the killings.
“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.
Noting that only a few Filipinos seem to be disturbed by the killings, Villegas asked whether the Philippines is becoming a “killing fields nation” as it seeks to stamp out illegal drugs.
He said he shared the dream of a Philippines without the drug menace, but questioned whether killing crime suspects without due process was “a morally acceptable way to eradicate crime.”
“From a generation of drug addicts, shall we become a generation of street murderers? [Can] the do-it-yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?” he asked.
Villegas warned that the Philippines may become a safer place, but children might learn to tolerate murder.
“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 said he hoped humanity would 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 said he was ready to be “killed again and again on social media” for his beliefs.
Lamenting that a part of him dies a hundred times with every killing, Villegas said: “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.” TVJ
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