CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 December 2018

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Swapping drug addiction for blood addiction

ARAKAN (SE): Father Peter Geremia, the Italian priest who came into the news as the offsider of the murdered Father Fausto Tentorio in Arakan, North Cotabato, in 2011, says that he had been told by a Filipino priest that the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, knows the heart of the ordinary people and knows that they want to oppose the drug syndicates, the murders, rapes, holdups and the system of corruption of the police and judiciary, as well as that in every other public office in the land.

The aging Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has spent the bulk of his adult life working among the poor of The Philippines and understands well the culture of permissiveness and death that cripples the daily lives of vast swathes of the population.

However, he questions the current war on drugs, asking as does Archbishop Socrates Villegas if there is anything to be gained by swapping a generation of drug addicts for a generation of street murderers addicted to blood and possibly many other maladies.

However, he says that Duterte is acting in an extremely contradictory manner, on the one hand saying that he respects the laws of war for the protection of civilians or even unarmed enemies, while on the other flaunting the very same law by dehumanising the vigilantes he has unleashed on the nation’s civilians.

All this in the name of fighting drugs.

But writing on the Website of the Father Fausto Tentorio Foundation on September 15, Father Geremia says, “Killing can also become a drug. Killing sick people may be easy, the killers may feel unlimited power, but they may also feel deep guilt, often subconscious, which may cause disturbances in a person, leading to various forms of violence, then drinking and even drugs…”

He continues, “Killers are dangerous even to their own families. Therefore the war on drugs should also limit killings, particularly by vigilantes or even police acting as vigilantes. They may also become addicts to violence.”

However, he notes that Duterte is not open to receiving advice on this matter.

“President Duterte may resent unsolicited advice by self-righteous people who have failed to face their own failures to deal with the drug problem or even greater problems. He may call Church people hypocrites and blame foreign advisers for failing to stop the greatest crimes, like the economic system that allows the rich to become richer, but causes countless deaths among the poor, the business of armaments and war that feeds terrorism,” the Italian missionary says.

But he adds that his barbarity is also a call to the wider society to become equally as aggressive in fighting the scourges that afflict it in a way that does not simply create new addictions, and give support to a clean war on drugs, on corruption and on all injustice.

He then cites the parable of the Prodigal Son, saying that there are no prizes for sharing the resentment of the older brother and just believing that it is easier to kill drug addicts rather than treat them, as his father treated his errant brother, and rehabilitate them.

He asks what is wrong with a society where government, Churches and civil society cannot provide an all-out effort to address a problem that has been allowed to grow as a result of their own tacit inertia.

 

“Can we avoid the drug of killing?” he asks.

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