CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Stop cardboard justice

MANILA (SE): In a first Church-inspired public demonstration against the outright slaughter being perpetrated against his people by the president of the Republic of The Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, students lay prone outside the office of the Human Rights Commission in Quezon City on July 25 with placards reading, Stop Cardboard Justice.

Students imitating dead bodies lay prone in a protest initiated by Bishop Broderick Pabillo under the name of Thou Shalt not Kill (Huwag Kang Papatay).

The Philippine Star quoted the chairperson of the bishops’ Commission on the Laity as saying, “You cannot solve a crime with another crime. You cannot do something good by committing evil. You cannot get rid of crime if you commit another crime. Killing is a crime.”

At a Mass offered for the intentions of the victims and their families of the mass slaughter attended by some 500 people, Bishop Pabillo said, “To carry out an extrajudicial killing is to do something against the law.”

He continued, “Killing is wrong, whatever the offence may be, especially when there is no due process. You do not know the extent of people’s sins, or if they are at fault in the first place.”

He added that there is no proof that any of the estimated 645 people who have been killed were guilty of anything, saying that a placard taped to a dead body listing their supposed crimes does not add up to any kind of proof.

“Even if it is true that they were drug pushers and did something wrong to other people, what about their families? They now have been done wrong,” the auxiliary bishop of Manila said at St. Vincent de Paul Church on the campus of Adamson University.

Rappler.com reported Father Atilano Fajardo, from the Ministry of Public Affairs in Manila archdiocese, as describing the targets of summary killing as sacrificial victims. He added that their deaths make the war on drugs look like it is achieving something.

Christine Amontos, a student who helped to organise the Mass, told The Philippine Star that some relatives of victims did attend the Mass, but she believes that many who intended to come were scared off by the police, as they believe that the long arm of the law is not particularly discerning when judging guilt from innocence.

Their fear is well placed, as experience in Davao has taught people that anyone who catches their ire can end up being declared a drug user, as one mother discovered when she asked for a warrant when they came looking for her 15-year-old son.

Miffed at her impudence, the officers murdered not only the son they were looking for, but his three younger siblings for good measure, so families have good reason to give them a wide berth.

However, Bishop Pabillo urged the families of the victims to come out and speak up. “Seek help from local parishes if you need it,” he said.

Bishop Pabillo explained that the clash of the Mass with the first State of the Nation Address of the newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, was accidental.

But ironically, it meant that while people in Church were praying for an end to the mass murder campaign, in the nearby congress building Duterte was upping the ante, saying, “I will ask the permission of this country… I have to slaughter these idiots who are destroying our country”

The former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, Antonio La Viña, told rappler.com that it is common knowledge that Duterte’s murderous war on drugs did not clean up the problem in Davao during his 16-year purge.

“We all agree that the war on drugs won’t be won by extrajudicial killings, or even the death penalty, or even legitimate encounters. The war on drugs is also a war on poverty, war on powerlessness,” La Viña said.

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