Defend life, church groups urge faithful
ILOILO CITY—Church and religious groups have decried the surge in killings of suspected drug pushers and have called on the faithful to “defend the dignity of life.”
Fr. Marco Sulayao, chair of Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) on Panay Island, said while religious people support the eradication of illegal drugs and rehabilitation of drug dependents, these should be done without the “wanton” killings of suspected drug pushers.
He said there has been no significant outcry because of the people’s desire to get rid of illegal drugs, which have victimized many, especially the youth.
“But surely, there is another way of doing this without killing more people,” Sulayao said.
PCPR led a candle-light protest at the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo City last week to call for the end to the drug-related killings and in support of the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
More than 60 priests, seminarians nuns and members of the militant organizations, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, joined the protest.
From July 1 to Aug. 22, 765 drug suspects have been killed in police operations, according to Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa. He said those killed resisted arrest and fought back with policemen.
Dela Rosa said aside from those killed in police operations, 1,160 had been killed by unknown assailants. Most, if not all, are believed to be drug-related.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier raised concern over the killing of suspected pushers in police operations.
“To kill a suspect outright, no matter how much surveillance work may have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified. Suspicion is never the moral equivalent of certainty, and punishment may be inflicted only on the ground of certainty,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said in a statement. The eight million-strong Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) also expressed alarm over the spate of killings of suspected drug pushers and users.
“While we are one with (President Duterte’s) commitment to end criminality in his first six months as President, we cannot turn a blind eye to this grave injustice being committed against poor families who are being victimized in this war on drugs,” IFI obispo maximo (supreme bishop) Ephraim Fajutagana said in a statement dated Aug. 23.
Fajutagana called on the President to “review and reconsider”his anti-illegal drugs strategy.
“We urge him, as the country’s top official, to protect its people’s rights—their right to life, most especially. It is his principal duty as President to enforce the law and uphold the interests of the people,” he said.
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