PH LIKENED TO ‘VALLEY OF DEATH’:
Archbishops condemn drug killings, corruption, Duterte ‘totalitarianism’

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Thomasian Archbishop Ricardo Baccay (top left) of Tuguegarao, Nueva Segovia Archbishop Marlo Peralta (middle left) and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas (bottom left) denounce killings perpetrated by the government of President Duterte (right)

The Philippines has become a “valley of death” due to the government’s murderous policies and anomalous pandemic response, leaders of archdioceses in Northern Luzon said in a joint pastoral message on Sept. 12.

Thomasian Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Nueva Segovia Archbishop Marlo Peralta decried how the “killers” behind the murders of “more than thirty thousand poor Filipinos” and dissenting journalists, political opponents, court judges and priests remained at large.

“It is like living in the valley of death—killing of drug users and opponents; helpless death in the pandemic, death by governance without vision, death by shameless corruption that seems to break all records…The killers are at large and the blind supporters of these murderers applaud the killers,” the Church leaders said.

They said that aside from these killings, Filipinos’ lives were being lost due to the government’s “incompetence” and “ineptitude.”

“The poor are slowly dying from joblessness due to ridiculous confusing quarantine classifications. Incompetence kills people. Ineptitude kills nations and economies. Hunger kills slowly,” they said.

“Bullets kill. Viruses kill. Governance without direction kills. Corruption kills. Trolls kill with fake news. Hunger kills. When will the killings stop? The poor pay for the corruption of the powerful. The nation is sinking in debt,” they added.

The only necessary death, they said, was Jesus’s.

“His death is the only death we need. There is no other death needed anymore to improve our situation or to merit God’s mercy. The death of Jesus was the death once and for all.”

They also urged the faithful to “resist” inhumane governance.

“We citizens must be law abiding but we are not pacifists. We must resist a murderous and corrupt public order,” the statement read.

“[Engage in] peaceful assemblies of dissent or sober discussions of social issues guided by the Gospel or rallies for honesty and heroism … This is the only morally acceptable resistance,” they added.

They called on the youth to vote in the 2022 elections.

“We plead with our youth and first-time voters to register themselves. We appeal to the sense of patriotism of the reluctant candidates to bring back ethics in our political life and run according to your conscience not according to the surveys,” the prelates said. Mariel Celine L. Serquiña with reports from Ma. Alena O. Castillo

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