Former UST rector hits Duterte for downplaying anti-drug war deaths

Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P.

FORMER UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa O.P. has called out President Rodrigo Duterte for shrugging off the number of deaths in his anti-drug war, saying the dead must not merely be tagged as “collateral damage.”

In his column published in the Manila Bulletin last Jan. 7, de la Rosa said the constant use of “collateral damage” to refer to the fatalities of the anti-drug war makes people forget the gravity of killing.

“The President calms our fear and alleviates our moral indignation by calling the casualties as mere ‘collateral damage,'” his column read.

“[W]hen we no longer shudder at the sight of dead bodies piling up because we see them only as collateral damage, it becomes easier for us to kill without any sense of accountability or fear of retribution.”

De la Rosa said the real collateral damage in the war on drugs is the people’s ”loss of our moral sensibility.”

“When a society condones or trivializes the murder of innocent people, human life ceases to matter, whether that of a full-grown human being, or that of the unborn.”

He reminded Filipinos to avoid the careless use of words in times of widespread killings and injustice and urged citizens to be vigilant.

De la Rosa, a former Varsitarian Witness (religion) editor, was a three-time rector of the University, from 1990 to 1994, 1994 to 1998, and 2008 to 2012.

According to a Dec. 6 report by ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, the body count in the anti-drug war has risen to 5, 882. 2,041 were killed in police operations and 3,841 murdered by civilians.

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