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Bishop sends in teams to shield communities from killings

Video footage, eyewitness acounts dispel Philippine police claim shot drugs suspects resisted arrest

Bishop sends in teams to shield communities from killings

The body of an alleged drug dealer killed during a police anti-drug operation is seen on the ground in Manila on Aug. 18. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines

August 21, 2017

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Mission stations are set to open in urban communities in Manila to minister to grieving families of victims killed in President Rodrigo Duterte's drugs war.

The move follows a spike in extra-judicial killings last week which added to the more than 10,000 deaths already recorded in the more than yearlong campaign, according to activists.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David of Caloocan Diocese told ucanews.com that various religious congregations would open small mission centers to care for grieving families of slain residents in slums in the Caloocan, Navitas and Malabon areas of the Philippine capital. 

Bishop David said the diocese does not have the time or funds to build new facilities, so it would just rent space in the communities, and assign staff and volunteers to provide direct services, and an oratory or prayer room.

The mission stations will revive the concept of basic ecclesial communities to comfort the families, the bishop said.

Manila's northern suburbs have chalked up the highest number of killings since the "war on drugs," began last year.

Last week saw more than 50 deaths with law enforcers claiming all were the result of drug suspects resisting arrest. 

However, in the case of 17-year old Kian Loyd Delos Santos, relatives and village leaders retrieved a video that showed police officers escorting him away from where he was arrested. He was later found dead somewhere else.

Witnesses said police forced a gun into the senior high school student's hand, ordered him to run, and then shot him.

Most of the deaths logged by police "are mostly, if not all, extra judicial killings," said Bishop Jose Oliveros of Malolos, whose diocese in Bulacan province saw more than 32 killed in one day last week.

Duterte has dismissed the subsequent outcry over the spike in killings. 

On national television, he said the killing of 32 people or more would make inroads into the country's narcotics problems.

Bishop Oliveros appealed for more government focus on rehabilitation, rather than violent methods.

"I wish the government would give priority to rehabilitation programs and treat drug addiction more as a sickness rather than a crime," he said.

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