Philippines: Church leaders speak out against 'serial killer' government

Source: Fides/CTF

A Jesuit professor has spoken out against the brutal regime of President Duterte in the Philippines. Fr Albert Alejo, anthropologist and professor at Manila University said: "In the so-called crusade against drugs launched by President Duterte, extrajudicial killings continue at a pace of about a thousand per month. The poor are those most affected.

"To understand the seriousness of the phenomenon, one must bear in mind that under the dictatorship of Marcos, one of the darkest periods of national history, there were 250 a year. We have a serial killer president and the state is becoming a state-killer. As Christians we cannot remain indifferent."

Fr Alejo, who is working with a group of religious from other congregations and Catholic laity to raise consciousness in order to end the campaign of murders and human rights violations said: "There is total contempt of human life, there is impunity for those who commit crimes, there is the destruction of the rule of law and of democracy: can we remain silent or ignore this situation?"

The continuous violence perpetrated by police and vigilantes squadrons that is eliminating small drug dealers and drug addicts has recently generated new reactions from Filipino Bishops.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said recently: "the country cannot be governed by violence". "With pain and horror we continue to receive news of murders every day, largely victims of suspected drug dealers or drug addicts", he noted. "We cannot allow the destruction of life to become an ordinary fact. We cannot rule the nation with homicides, this is not human", said Cardinal Tagle.

The Cardinal called for a "change of heart" and to rediscover "the inclination to do good and to love one another" and asked the priests to show solidarity and closeness to the families of the victims, suffering from pain.

In many Philippine dioceses now, including Manila, church bells sound for five minutes at 8pm every evening, inviting the faithful to remember the victims of extrajudicial killings and to pray for them.

Without denying the presence of the problem of the spread of drugs and trafficking in the nation, the Philippine Church considers the means of fighting the phenomenon unfair and inadequate. That is why at the end of August a special conference brought together Bishops, government representatives, police authorities, leaders of non-governmental organizations with the goal of developing a partnership between the various sectors of society and government, and to launch a fruitful collaboration to fight drugs in a different way. "I hope this kind of dialogue can continue at different levels", said the Cardinal.

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