MANILA, July 26, 2018–A ranking Catholic Church official lashed out at President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that he doesn’t care about human rights as he refused to backdown in his bloody war on drugs.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said this means killings will continue and more lives will be lost along the way.
“His warning was scary. It means we have to brace ourselves for more killings,” he said.
Duterte, in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), said that his administration’s fight against the illegal drugs trade is far from over.
Instead, according to him, it will be as “relentless and chilling” as the day it started two years ago.
Hitting back at his critics, Duterte said, “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives”.
The bishop lamented that such statement implies that the victims of drug-related killings are not human lives, something that “the Church can never agree with”.
“The statement is illogical but not really surprising because it has been stated plainly on several occasions,” David said.
“Addicts, for us, are sick people; drug use is not a crime that deserves death. What people with substance-use disorder need is rehabilitation and we in the Church are willing to help out in this endeavor.”
“Yes, use the full force of the law, file charges against violators, jail the pushers and the suppliers, but save the users; do not kill them! Besides, we cannot rehabilitate dead people anymore, can we?” he added.
David said they would have long agreed with Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs if only it was directed against the correct individuals, specifically the big time drug suppliers.
“How come the supply of illegal drugs remains steady in spite of all the killings?” he said. “Is it not obvious that addicts and small-time peddlers and pushers are not the root cause of the drug problem? Isn’t it obvious that they are also victims, and that they also need to be saved, not killed?”
“The fight against illegal drugs must indeed be relentless, but the killings—either by the police or by masked vigilantes—must be stopped! This will remain as our stubborn and relentless plea,” said David. (CBCPNews)