CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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How about peace drug zones?

MANILA (SE): The Church in The Philippines, which collapsed into a stunned silence as the newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, began his systemic attack on the poor of the country in the guise of a war on drugs, has gradually awoken from its daze, opening a few centres for the drug addicted and condemning the campaign in no uncertain manner.

In its latest appeal, Bishop Antonio Tobias, from Novaliches, has asked Duterte at a gathering sponsored by the Department of the Interior to declare dioceses or areas with ongoing drug rehabilitation programmes as peace zones.

“Is it possible, Mr. President, that you declare as peace zones all dioceses or barangays with ongoing rehabilitation programmes in collaboration with the police?” the bishop queried, noting that the increasing number of casualties is nearing the recorded figure (if not the real one) of those who died during the 20 years of Martial Law.

“This refers to a peace zone like that in Mindanao—where no one should die in the area. If someone dies in the areas declared as peace zones by the president, the president and the police will call you out,” Bishop Tobias said on September 28.

He said that another option is for the police to be transparent about who is on their list of drug dependents and pushers, so the Church can help verify the reports.

The bishop hopes such information could be passed among the parishes through the priests and the barangays engaged in the drug rehabilitation programme.

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