PH in ‘spiritual agony’ due to summary killings, says head of Filipino Dominicans

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THE PROVINCIAL of the Filipino Dominicans has spoken out against the spate of extrajudicial killings, calling them a cause of “pain and suffering” in the country.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, deplored the rampant killings of drug suspects, which he said had led to spiritual agony and distress.

“[In] our country today, we are in pain and suffering because of the disobedience in the command: ‘Thou shall not kill,’” said Fr. Timoner, the vice chancellor of the University, in a conference at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati last Oct. 15.

More than 3,300 drug suspects have been killed since the government of President Rodrigo Duterte launched a deadly campaign against illegal drugs, either in police operations or by unknown assailants.

Rampant killings devalue the dignity of human life, Timoner said.

“Ang pagpatay ay pag-mumura. Ito ay nagpapababa ng halaga ng buhay na ikinaloob ng Diyos,” Timoner said.

Timoner is the second high-ranking Dominican to speak out against the killings, after UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. who urged President Duterte last month to focus on rehabilitating drug offenders.

In a chance interview with the Varsitarian, Fr. Dagohoy said the government should focus on “the Catholic way of justice” by rehabilitating drugs offenders, instead of eliminating them.

“Since we believe that life is important, [w]e have to understand that there is a thing called restorative justice. We have to provide hope and courage to change. `Yun `yung pagtingin ng Diyos sa tao,” Fr. Dagohoy said.

During the High Mass of the Oct. 15 conference, Fr. Timoner stressed the need for the faithful to attend to the spiritual needs of all Christians.

“We can minister to so many people yet we failed to minister to our brothers living next door,” he said.

The four-hour event, titled “Contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary, the Women of the Eucharist,” is the third conference of the “Katolikong Pinoy Formation Series”, a year-long activity led by the Archdiocese of Manila.

Rule of law

Other Christian groups have also denounced the rising cases of extrajudicial killings linked to President Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs.

Bishop Joselito Cruz, general secretary of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Aglipayan Church, called on Duterte to “respect the law on due process in apprehending, judging, and punishing criminals.”

“Respect the gift of life and human dignity given by God; respect the rights of all people including alleged criminals, and respect the law on due process in apprehending, judging, and punishing criminals,” Cruz said in an email to the Varsitarian.

The IFI offers counseling and spiritual renewal sessions to recovering drug addicts since their churches do not have rehabilitation facilities, he said.

Cruz called on Christians to speak out against the killings.

“A person’s voice empowered by and speaking for God, can be very effective,” he said, adding that the government could be persuaded to stop the extrajudicial killings.

“The conflation of many God-inspired people speaking together against [extrajudicial killings] can get the government’s attention and influence [or] persuade it to respect God’s laws,” Cruz added.

Last Aug. 23, IFI Supreme Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana urged Duterte to “review and reconsider his strategy on this war on drugs.”

“We urge [the president] to protect [his] people’s rights [and] their right to life. [The] illegal drug trade is a social menace, and it must be put to an end. But this must be done without neglecting the inherent value of human life,” Fajutagana said in a statement.

The United Methodist Church (UMC) has also joined in the condemnation of the violent anti-drug war.

“While we are happy that our president is focused on focused on eradicating the drug menace and corruption, I am a little bit apprehensive with the killings that have been going on,” UMC Head Bishop Rodolfo Juan told the Varsitarian.

Juan called on the faithful to pray but stressed that people should not remain mere spectators.

“Maganda nga ang prayers, [pero] kailangan nating kumilos. [After all], we may be the answer to our prayers,” Juan said.

Other religious groups that have criticized the summary executions include Radha Krisna Hindu Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-Philippines Urdaneta Mission, Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Ministry, Good News Community Church and the New Life in Christ Foursquare Gospel.

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