By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday objected to the idea of priests carrying guns to protect themselves from lawless elements, saying they should choose another profession if they insist on doing so.
“Priests are not gunslingers. If priests are going to carry guns to protect themselves from the culture of killing spawned by Duterte, they should have chosen another profession,” De Lima said in her latest dispatch from the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame, where she is detained while facing drug charges.
“We cannot imagine shepherds of the faithful packing heat ready to shoot from the hip at human beings. This is just the opposite of any religious vocation,” she further said.
De Lima blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for spawning a culture of killing even with so-called men of the cloth.
“Under normal times, hatred and violence upon the church and its priests would point the police to the inciter as a suspect in the murder of priests. But these are not normal times. These are demented times,” de Lima said.
“While Duterte incites hatred and violence upon the Catholic Church, the police look the other way in search for the killers of priests, looking for motives,” she pointed out.
“There is no other bigger motive staring us in the eye than a President spouting anti-church diatribes and inciting violence on priests. Duterte is the first and foremost enabler of violence on men of the cloth. We should not look any further in our search for who is responsible for enabling the murderers of priests,” the lawmaker further said.
De Lima pointed out that the idea of arming priests has never been entertained until now under a regime with “a kill, kill, kill mentality and whose solution to every problem is to literally shoot from the hip.”
“Transforming men of peace into potential killers is definitely an abomination that can rear its head only under a government that promotes violence more than anything else,” she said.
“Duterte has done nothing for the past several weeks except to demonize the Catholic Church and its priests. He personally distributes anti-church literature and encourages his audience to convert to the Iglesia ni Rodrigo and its demented gospel,” added the senator.
De Lima earlier slammed the Duterte administration for the spate of killings that occurred following the launching of his brutal war on drugs. She also criticized the recent series of killings of priests which she believes was generated by the President’s rhetoric the Catholic Church.
“After the killing of a priest, he shames him with gossip, where the malicious character assassination of the victim is used to justify his murder, much like the tagging of supposed drug offenders is used to justify their extra-judicial execution,” she further said.
“Shaming murder victims is vintage and classic Duterte, which leaves no doubt as to who he is actually cheering for,” she added.
“Instead of arming priests, we should start disarming Duterte of his arsenal of violence and hatred that has enabled him to inflict so much pain and hurt among the Filipino people as never before experienced in our history,” de Lima stressed.