Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has reminded Filipinos not to be selective in calling for respect for life.
His comments come amid a spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines,
"Many are worried about extrajudicial killings. And rightfully so. I hope we're also worried about abortion," the Manila prelate told a meeting in Manila on Aug. 28.
"Why is it that only a few speak about abortion. That is also murder," said the cardinal.
"Let us not be selective," said Cardinal Tagle, adding that Catholics should be "consistent" in promoting "whole or integral life."
He condemned the killing of suspected drug dealers and addicts even as he said that the proliferation of narcotics in the country is "murdering" the future of young people.
It was the first time the Manila prelate had spoke about the government's anti-narcotics war that has already claimed almost 2,000 lives.
"I know that the big issue nowadays is the recent spate of killings, which they say, afflicts even those not guilty, the innocent," said Cardinal Tagle.
"But whether a person is guilty or not, life should be cared for and respected. And if a person is guilty, give him new life, the opportunity to rise from his old life," he added.
The bishops' conference has remained silent over the issue although several prelates have condemned the killings.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops' conference, earlier appealed to people’s sense of humanity.
Archbishop Villegas said the "voice of disturbed humanity is drowned out by the louder voice of revenge or silenced by the sweet privileges of political clout."
In a statement titled, "Let humanity in us speak," the archbishop said he is "in utter disbelief," adding that the killings "are too much to swallow."
"From a generation of drug addicts, shall we become a generation of street murderers? [Can] the do-it-yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?" he said.
The Philippine National Police has recorded at least 1,900 drug-related killings after President Rodrigo Duterte won in the presidential election in May.
National police chief Ronald de la Rosa told a Senate investigation on Aug. 22 that at least 750 suspected drug traffickers and users had been killed in police operations since July 1.
The police chief said his office is also investigating some 1,100 killings that might be related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
"As long as one is alive, whoever he or she is, that life is sacred," Cardinal Tagle said as he urged Filipinos to defend life "not only the lives we want to protect."
He said everybody should also worry not only about the drug-related killings but also other threats to life including abortion, unfair labor practices, and food wastage.
"Unfair labor practices kill the dignity of a worker while food wastage kills hungry children," he said.