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Philippine Catholic network joins call to stop killings

Extrajudicial violence can be an expression of 'mistrust in a corrupted justice system'

Philippine Catholic network joins call to stop killings

Church and human rights groups light candles in Manila to dramatize calls for an end to the spate of killings of suspected illegal drug users and dealers. (Photo by Vincent Go)

ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines

October 17, 2016

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The social action network of the Philippine Catholic bishops has added its voice to calls for a stop to the spate of drug-related killings in the country.

In a statement titled "Respect the Dignity of Life," the network of religious, priests, and laypeople from 86 dioceses called on President Rodrigo Duterte "to put a stop to extrajudicial violence."

Almost 4,000 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed since Duterte declared an all-out war against illegal drugs when he assumed office on June 30.

Members of the network said Duterte has a "greater obligation to be in the forefront of respecting the rule of law, which calls for respect for the judicial process in his fight against crime and illegal drugs."

Even as they "applaud the president's political will and determination" in fighting crime and illegal drugs, the church workers said Duterte's pronouncements that imply support for killings are "deplorable."

"Killing of suspected drug traffickers without due process, even in the name of a just cause, is morally unacceptable," said the group.

Reports that most of those killed were poor people living in slums drew concern from the group.

"The president’s claim of ensuring and protecting those who have less in life becomes merely lip service should the state continue to violate and disregard the rights of the poor," read the statement dated Oct. 13.

The church workers also called on the Philippine National Police to protect the people by providing "just and humane directives to the police in pursuing and arresting criminals."

The Catholic network called on the judiciary to initiate reforms in the country’s justice system, saying that extrajudicial violence can be an expression of "mistrust in our corrupted justice system."

Filipinos were also urged to be a "visible force" and to take a stand against the killings.

For its part, members of the network vowed to support the government in its drug rehabilitation efforts by opening church facilities and commit resources "to save life, especially those who are least in laws and life."

The Philippine Catholic bishops established its social action secretariat in 1966 "to accompany the poor and marginalized in the just and legitimate struggle for social justice and transformation."

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