A the drug-war death toll nears 5,000, a Catholic bishop is concerned that many Christians have become desensitized to the deliberate ending of human life.
Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said it is unfortunate that the strong moral outcry for life is seemingly disappearing.
“We are sadly witnessing a growing callousness among our people, accepting these as a fact of life; for they say, these persons were after all drug addicts and, therefore, they deserved to die,” Baylon said.
“What is happening to us? Have we become so heartless that we cannot anymore feel for them, their families and the loved ones they have left behind?” he asked.
In a open letter to President Duterte, Baylon pointed out that the drug problem in the country, no matter how bad, will never justify summary executions.
“We support your drive against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality, but we question the method, for ‘the end does not justify the means,’” the prelate said.Instead of encouraging more killings, the bishop urged Duterte to examine his approach to eliminating the drug menace and to exert more efforts to stop violence.
‘House of Hope’
“Mr. President, we urge you to order, especially these extrajudicial killings, be stopped and investigated; and those responsible arrested and brought to justice”, he said.
The prelate also announced the establishment of his diocese’s “House of Hope”, a community-based rehabilitation program for drug-dependents. The effort, he said, also aims to provide recovery coaching, spiritual guidance and life-skills training to substance users.
“Through this modest, but sincere effort, we not only want to help these returnees, but also assure them that in life there are second chances and the opportunity to do and be better,” Baylon said.
Cardinal Quevedo: Justice after church bombing
Meanwhile, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato has called for justice for the survivors of a bomb attack outside a church at the end of the first Mass on the first Sunday of Advent.
At least two people were injured when an improvised explosive device went off outside the church’s gate in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, as parishioners left the church at around 6:30 a.m.
“I appeal to our security police forces to ferret out those responsible and bring them to justice. Let us all be vigilant against acts of terrorism,” the prelate said in a statement.
“It is an attack on innocent human lives. It is also an attack on freedom of religion and freedom to worship,” he said.
The blast, he added, was also made worse because of the sacredness of the place and the event that had just taken place.
The cardinal described the explosion as “pure terrorism”.
“As the leader of the archdiocese of Cotabato, I voice my strong condemnation against this irrational act of terrorism,” he said.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
Image credits: AP/Bullit Marquez