Bishops call for end to drug problem, ‘reign of terror’ vs poor

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Photo by Basilio H. Sepe.

THE CATHOLIC Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called for an end to the “reign of terror” against the mostly poor victims of the bloody war on drugs, saying the killing of suspected drug users and peddlers will not eliminate the illegal drug trade.

In a pastoral letter read in all churches on Feb. 5, the CBCP expressed concern over the mounting cases of extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, and also recognized the ill effects of drug use.

“To destroy one’s own life and the life of another, is a grave sin and does evil to society. The use of drugs is a sign that a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts,” the bishops said in the pastoral letter, signed on their behalf by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the CBCP president.

But “[w]e cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong,” they said.

“A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong,” the CBCP said.

The bishops blamed corruption in society, massive poverty and the destruction of families as the causes of the drug problem and criminality in the country.

Speak against evil

The CBCP also urged the public to be vocal in criticizing the bloody drug war.

“To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice of it … if we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths,” the bishops said.

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The bishops said they would continue to speak out even if they are called out for their own shortcomings–an apparent response to Duterte’s repeated tirades against Church leaders.

“We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other. We will help drug addicts so that they may be healed and start a new life. We will stand in solidarity and care for those left behind by those who have been killed and for the victims of drug addicts,” they said.

Apart from supporting the rehabilitation of drug dependents, the CBCP called on Church leaders to continue livelihood, education and health programs for the poor.

“Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent. Let us put into practice not only our native inner strength but the strength that comes from our Christian faith,” the bishops said.

Last Jan. 30, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald de la Rosa announced that Duterte had ordered an internal cleansing of the police ranks and the suspension of the drug war, which has claimed the lives of some 7,000 people in anti-illegal drug operations or by suspected vigilantes.

The President’s order was prompted by the killing of a Korean businessman by rogue policemen right inside the PNP headquarters last October.

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