Drug killings bring rights drive in Philippine diocese

Church leaders say they want to arm Marbel parishioners with knowledge of human rights
Drug killings bring rights drive in Philippine diocese

Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel has asked members of the clergy in his diocese to intensify human rights awareness campaigns in their parishes after a spate of drug-related killings. (Photo by Bong Sarmiento)

A Catholic diocese in the southern Philippines has intensified its human rights awareness campaign amid an increase in drug-related killings in the region.

Workshops are being held to teach members of the clergy and lay leaders in Marbel Diocese how to monitor and document rights abuses.

Father Ariel Destora, director for social action in the diocese, said the campaign aims to "arm our parishioners with knowledge of human rights, especially during these trying times."

The priest said relatives of victims of the killings have asked for help from church leaders in seeking justice for their loved ones.

At least 270 "drug personalities" have been reported killed in the city of Koronadal, seat of the Soccsksargen region in Mindanao, since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016.

In nearby Polomolok town, more than a dozen individuals have been killed in recent months either by unidentified gunmen or during so-called legitimate police operations.

Bishop Cerilo Casicas of Marbel directed parish priests under his jurisdiction to attend a three-day workshop starting Nov. 30 to enhance their knowledge of human rights and of documenting abuses.

The event takes place ahead of the 70th observance of Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

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