UCA News

Philippines

Philippine bishop blasts 'indifference' to drug killings

People's lack of sympathy has made him question his role as a pastor

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: November 13, 2019 11:40 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Philippine bishop blasts 'indifference' to drug killings

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan in the Philippine capital Manila notes that people's indifference seemed to have plagued his diocese amid the wave of drug-related killings. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Share this article :
The seeming indifference of the Filipino faithful to thousands of drug-related killings across the country has pushed a Catholic bishop in Manila to the point of calling himself a failure as a pastor.
 
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, vice president of the bishops' conference, said people's "indifference" seems to have plagued his diocese especially

Kalookan Diocese in the capital has become the epicenter of the government's three-year-old drug war that has reportedly killed thousands of people.

Government figures say at least 6,847 drug personalities have been killed in police anti-narcotics operations since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in mid-2016. The figure is significantly lower than the 27,000 estimate of human rights watchdogs.

Speaking at an international youth conference in the central Philippines this week, Bishop David said several killings were committed in broad daylight in front of a lot of people.

What’s lamentable, he said, no one even dared to help the victim or at least cover the body in one case despite the corpse being left at the scene for at least three hours.

"And when I saw that, I said I must honestly admit I’m a failure of a bishop," the prelate was quoted as saying.

In a post on the website of the Catholic bishops' conference, Bishop David said he was a failure if "people can behave this way in utter indifference to seeing something so violent and just walk by."

"There is no good Samaritan," he said. "What kind of shepherd am I if I just keep quiet about this inhumanity?" said the prelate.

"The prevalence of indifference is what the Mother Church has been grieving about with regard to her children.” 

In an earlier talk, Bishop David said a government plan to hire more health workers to address drug addiction was long overdue.

The prelate, a vocal critic of the government's anti-narcotics campaign, said his diocese is willing to work with authorities to help deal with the drug problem.

"[It is] long overdue but never too late if they can admit what we have been insisting on all along — that drug addiction is basically a health issue," said Bishop David.

"We can even help the government cut down the cost if only the anti-drug abuse councils of local government units are willing to partner with our parishes," he said.

Philippine health officials have announced that the government is seeking funds to hire more psychologists and psychiatrists for drug rehabilitation centers.

Bishop David earlier challenged the Philippine Department of Health to be more active in confronting substance abuse and implement a more health-based approach to drug addiction.

The new head of a panel tasked with addressing the proliferation of illegal drugs has invited faith and human rights groups to help in the campaign.

Vice President Maria Robredo said she wants the killings to end and "ensure effective conduct during all anti-illegal drug operations and the arrest of high-value drug personalities."

She said she wanted to give a new face to the government’s drug campaign, adding that the anti-narcotics drive "should be within the bounds of the rule of law."

The vice president lauded the initiative by Bishop David's diocese that advocated a "more public health-based” way of solving the narcotics problem and opened parishes and teamed up with local officials to rehabilitate drug users under a program of "healing, not killing."

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."