Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2016
Author: Christina Mendez


Nobody, not even the poor, can justify getting into illegal drugs, 
President Duterte stressed, and there must be an "eye for an eye, a 
tooth for a tooth" principle of retributive justice to finally end the menace.

As this developed, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines 
president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas issued a 
prayer for the healing of the nation amid the rising number of 
killings related to the war on drugs.

"They know that is prohibited, whether you are poor or rich," Duterte 
said Monday night as he reiterated his heart would never bleed for 
families of those killed in government operations, even if some of 
them were supposedly forced to become drug pushers to earn a living.

In the course of the President's anti-drug war, the Philippine 
National Police said a total of nine policemen and three soldiers 
were killed while 26 others were wounded from July 1 to Aug. 22.

Vice President Leni Robredo said her office would help Duterte by 
creating a comprehensive program for drug surrenderees to make them 
productive citizens again.

Duterte maintained there was no government-sanctioned extrajudicial 
killings, but those who would fight law enforcers would have to be 
dealt with by force.

He said this was necessary to prevent the problem from escalating 
further and turning the Philippines into a narco-state.

"I will really kill you," he said in his speech at the Volunteers 
Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) gathering in Malacanang Monday 
night attended by its members as well as awardees from judiciary, 
media and other sectors.

He told the audience, including anti-crime activists, that there 
would be no justice for those who were on the wrong side of the law.

"Well, that's life. But let us be clear on this," he said, raising 
his right hand as if he were taking an oath. "I am committed by my 
oath of office.... the victims, they did not start the process that 
turned out to be bloody."

Duterte also said those crying for justice could not invoke fairness.

"I cannot simply define justice that is fair to all. Life is never 
fair... Forget about God. Forget about the laws of men. You think of 
the one universal equation. Who gave you the right to cook shabu? 
Sell it to my sons and daughters and make them crazy. Who?" he asked.

"Huwag muna 'yang human rights, huwag muna 'yang sabi mong mga 
vigilantes (Set aside human rights first, set aside your so-called 
vigilantes). Who gave you the right to distribute shabu and destroy a 
community?" Duterte said.

Unfazed by caution raised by the United Nations, the United States 
and other human rights groups, Duterte said he was now attending to 
the 600,000 drug users and pushers who surrendered to authorities to 
avoid getting killed in the course of the anti-drug war.

Prayer for the nation

For Villegas, "the divisions seem to widen even more" as killings 
continue to rise and the church "must stand up for the moral right."

"The indifference to the violations of the commandments of God is 
spreading. We must not give up," Villegas said.

"We will resist the moral wrong. We will stand and defend every 
person's life and dignity. We will shield the weak from harm. We will 
protect the confused from error," the archbishop added.

Villegas said the church must guide and enlighten the "lost" and that 
its members would "teach" even if "it seems like a voice in a hostile 

"...till the day we die...right is right and wrong is wrong and we 
will not withdraw from mission of the Lord," he said.

He told the flock to pray as "our call is not to be successful but to 
be faithful."

The prayer shall be recited before the start of every mass for nine 
days from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7. In all Catholic schools in the 
archdiocese, Villegas said this must be recited as the opening prayer 
for the first class period in every classroom.

"Believe in miracles and the power of a praying people. When we pray 
together, we are strong with the strength of God... Hope in the 
Lord," he added.

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said aside from nine PNP 
personnel and three members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 
who were shot dead by drug personalities about to be arrested during 
drug raids, a total of 18 policemen and eight soldiers were wounded.

Most of them remain in critical condition in different hospitals, Carlos said.

"There were also 80 cases where victims have 'cardboard' on their 
bodies when found," Carlos said.

Meanwhile, an average of 15 drug personalities were killed daily in 
the campaign against illegal drugs during the first 61 days of the 
Duterte administration.

The PNP said a total of 895 drug personalities were killed from July 
1 to Aug. 30 and that a total of 12,920 drug pushers and users were 
arrested in series of police operations nationwide.

The document showed 626,368 self-confessed drug users and pushers 
have surrendered to police authorities since July 1.

Of this number, a total of 41,064 admitted they were selling illegal 
drugs and 585,304 claimed they were sniffing shabu.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier reported that a 
total of 673,978 suspected drug users and pushers yielded to various 
police offices across the country. Carlos said the discrepancy has 
been corrected.

Robredo told reporters in Bocaue, Bulacan that her office would 
coordinate with local government units in the implementation of its 
program for surrenderees. She, however, did not provide details about 
the program for former drug users and pushers.

With Eva Visperas, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Helen Flores
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom