Pubdate: Sun, 04 Sep 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
Copyright: 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer
Author: Julie M. Aurelio


LINGAYEN-DAGUPAN Archbishop Socrates Villegas has urged Filipinos to 
speak up against the spate of killings targeting suspected criminals 
rather than remain comfortably silent.

In a pastoral message, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the 
Philippines (CBCP) head reminded the faithful that "What you do or 
not do for the least of your brethren, you do to Christ."

The message was to be read today in all churches under the 
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan in lieu of the Sunday homily.

"If you agree with us that killing suspected criminals is a crime and 
a sin itself, why do you just stay seated there in comfort keeping 
quiet? Whatever you do or not do for the least of your brethren, you 
do to Christ," Villegas said.

He warned that at the end of days, people will be weighed on their 
actions on the issue of summary executions of suspected criminals.

No peace for cowards

"There is no peace for cowards. The next life to be snuffed out could 
be yours," the prelate said.

This is the second time Villegas has spoken out on the issue of the 
killing of suspected criminals, particularly those linked to illegal 
drugs, under the Duterte administration.

On Aug. 5, he issued a pastoral message in which he appealed to the 
public's sense of humanity amid the spate of killings. It was the 
first time an official of the Catholic Church issued a statement 
against the Duterte administration's bloody war on illegal drugs.

This latest pastoral message was entitled "Your brother's blood cries 
out to me from the ground."

The archbishop referred to "bloodied soil" soaked with the blood of 
suspected criminals as well as innocents caught in the drug war.

He pointed out that even with hundreds of deaths, sin, violence and 
murders had not ceased and even continued to this day.

He also offered a prayer to those struggling to break free of their 
dependency on illegal drugs.

End to violence, not vengeance

"The ground continues to cry with the pitiful voice of the blood of 
our brothers and sisters. Their blood cries not for vengeance. Their 
blood pleads for an end to violence," he said.

He said that a person who was killed might have been an offender, but 
he or she was still a child of God.

"We can fight criminality without killing the law offenders. Who are 
we to judge that this offender is hopeless? Death ends all 
possibilities to change. We do not hold the future in our hands. 
There is no certainty that someone is beyond correction," Villegas said.

He said that in the pursuit of criminals to be executed, innocents 
become victims of mistaken identity, and trigger-happy vigilante, not 
the gun, make the fatal mistake.

He urged Filipinos to pray for those who have been killed, whether 
innocent or guilty, as well as those who carry out the killings as 
they have violated the fifth commandment: Thou shall not kill.

He said around 1,000 families were grieving because they were no 
longer complete following the murder of one of their own.
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