Church to public: Speak up vs killings

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CATHOLIC Church leaders on Monday said people should not keep silent on drug killings when it comes to abuses and instead come out and support actions against extrajudicial killings.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr. said society should not stay silent when it comes to abuses, and criticized the war on drugs which has already claimed more that  3,000 lives since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last year.

The Jesuit community led by Fr. Antonio Moreno expressed sympathy for the victims of summary killings and pressed the need for community support and action to curtail the drug problem.

The Jesuits said that looking away will not solve the problem, but unity behind concerted efforts and action will reduce it.

Bacani said the case of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos who was killed in a police operation on Aug. 16 was just one of the many extrajudicial killings.

Police claimed that the grade 11 student  was a drug runner who tried to resist arrest and fired a gun at authorities, prompting them to shoot back, but the CCTV footage, eyewitnesses and the autopsy findings contradicted their claims.

“The abuses are saddening; those involved should be held responsible in front of society. I’m asking the Lord to forgive them and that their conscience makes them ask God for forgiveness and to attain it, but in our society, they must be punished and disciplined; we must not just consent to their actions,” Bacani said.

“Though we wish to be in solidarity with all victims of injustice, we must move beyond expressions of outrage to constructive action,” Moreno said.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani. AFP

He said these actions may include raising public awareness about the evil of illegal drugs and by engaging other people, especially the youth, to stay away from vices.

The priest also rallied everyone to get involved, to work together with Church-based groups, the government and civil society organizations.

The Jesuits said it is imperative for everyone to rally behind the authorities and crime-fighting initiatives.

“It belongs to us all,” Moreno said, adding that the “evil” that attacks the human “should unite us, not divide us.”

That’s why the religious order welcomed the call of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to a multi-sectoral dialogue to understand the drug problem “in depth”.

Saying that the drug menace, is not just a political or criminal issue, they said that it is “evil that attacks our humanity,” even “turning policemen into murderers, and the poor into the victims of their own security forces.”

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard once again became the target of the President’s shower of expletives Monday, after she urged an end to his war on drugs with the death of Grade 11 student Kian delos Santos.

In a chance interview, Duterte reacted profanely to Callamard’s call that Delos Santos’ death should be the last in the government’s “cruel” anti-drugs campaign.

“T*** i** niya, sabihin mo. Huwag niya akong takutin. P***** i** niya. G*** pala siya eh [Son of a bitch, tell her. She shouldn’t try to scare me. Son of a bitch. She’s a fool.],” the President said of the French UN official.

Duterte accused Callamard of speaking up before knowing more about the situation on the ground. He also said that even under French laws, a suspect is guilty until he or she proves his innocence.

“Papuntahin mo dito. Tingnan mo ang sitwasyon. Do not ever give me that kind of shit. Republika ng Pilipinas ito. ‘Di ito teritoryo ng France. Gago pala siya, di siya nakikinig sa sinasabi ko [Let her come here. Look at the situation. Do not ever give me that kind of shit. This is the Republic of the Philippines, not a territory of France. She’s a fool for not listening to what I said],” he said. 

Callamard earlier branded delos Santos’ death  a murder, as she called for an investigation on “all unlawful deaths.”

Earlier, Duterte dared critics of the government’s war on drugs to stage an uprising against him.

“I will even send trucks for your transportation. Go ahead. I am waiting for that actually, so there will be a change in president and a new government that is working,” he said.

Callamard expressed regret over  Duterte’s remarks against her.

“I regret President Duterte’s response to my condolences to Kian Lyod delos Santos’ family.  Kian and others like him deserve dignity and justice. His family and families like his demand our respect and empathy. Not expletives,” Callamard said.

While she welcome the investigation and filing case against the murderers, she then called on Duterte and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to “uphold the Philippines international obligations, and the rule of law by ensuring that all unlawful deaths at the hand of the police are independently, impartially, effectively, and promptly investigated.”

Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said Callamard should mind her own business.

Dela Rosa said the UN official should let investigators finish their probe of the death of the 17-year-old student before she speaks.

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