Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
Copyright: 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer
Author: Nestor P. Burgos Jr.


ILOILO CITY - Church and religious groups have decried the surge in 
killings of suspected drug pushers and have called on the faithful to 
"defend the dignity of life."

Fr. Marco Sulayao, chair of Promotion of Church People's Response 
(PCPR) on Panay Island, said while religious people support the 
eradication of illegal drugs and rehabilitation of drug dependents, 
these should be done without the "wanton" killings of suspected drug pushers.

He said there has been no significant outcry because of the people's 
desire to get rid of illegal drugs, which have victimized many, 
especially the youth.

"But surely, there is another way of doing this without killing more 
people," Sulayao said.

PCPR led a candle-light protest at the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo City 
last week to call for the end to the drug-related killings and in 
support of the peace negotiations between the government and the 
National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

More than 60 priests, seminarians nuns and members of the militant 
organizations, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, joined the protest.

 From July 1 to Aug. 22, 765 drug suspects have been killed in police 
operations, according to Philippine National Police Director General 
Ronald dela Rosa. He said those killed resisted arrest and fought 
back with policemen.

Dela Rosa said aside from those killed in police operations, 1,160 
had been killed by unknown assailants. Most, if not all, are believed 
to be drug-related.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier 
raised concern over the killing of suspected pushers in police operations.

"To kill a suspect outright, no matter how much surveillance work may 
have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified. 
Suspicion is never the moral equivalent of certainty, and punishment 
may be inflicted only on the ground of certainty," Lingayen-Dagupan 
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said in a statement. 
The eight million-strong Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) also 
expressed alarm over the spate of killings of suspected drug pushers and users.

"While we are one with (President Duterte's) commitment to end 
criminality in his first six months as President, we cannot turn a 
blind eye to this grave injustice being committed against poor 
families who are being victimized in this war on drugs," IFI obispo 
maximo (supreme bishop) Ephraim Fajutagana said in a statement dated Aug. 23.

Fajutagana called on the President to "review and reconsider" his 
anti-illegal drugs strategy.

"We urge him, as the country's top official, to protect its people's 
rights-their right to life, most especially. It is his principal duty 
as President to enforce the law and uphold the interests of the 
people," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom