Duterte’s vow to relentlessly pursue drug war worries prelate

Published July 24, 2018, 8:40 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Leslie Ann Aquino

President Duterte’s warning during his State of the Nation Address that his drug war will be “as relentless and as chilling” drew concern from a Catholic prelate.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David via CBCP News / Manila Bulletin
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David via CBCP News / Manila Bulletin

Kalookan Bishop Pablo David said such statement was scary for it means “more killings.”

“His warning that his drug war ‘will be as relentless and as chilling as on the day it began’ was scary. It means we have to brace ourselves for more killings,” he said in a Facebook post.

Even Duterte’s statement that while Church and human rights advocates are “concerned about human rights,” he is “concerned about human lives,” he said was illogical as it implies that the victims of drug-related killings are not human lives.

“With all due respect, the Church can never agree with such a statement. Addicts, for us, are sick people; drug use is not a crime that deserves death. What people with substance-use disorder need is rehabilitation (and we in the Church are willing to help out in this endeavor.)” said David.

“Yes, use the full force of the law, file charges against violators, jail the pushers and the suppliers, but save the users; do not kill them! Besides, we cannot rehabilitate dead people anymore, can we?” the prelate asked.

“Neither the Church nor human rights advocates are saying that we should allow illegal drugs to simply proliferate in our country. Of course we are also concerned about the victims of drug abuse. But the victims of illegal drugs include the drug users themselves!” David said.

The Kalookan prelate said the government should focus its fight against the big time suppliers, than on the poor drug users.

“How come the supply of illegal drugs remains steady in spite of all the killings? Is it not obvious that addicts and small-time peddlers and pushers are not the root cause of the drug problem? Isn’t it obvious that they are also victims, and that they also need to be saved, not killed?” asked David.

“The fight against illegal drugs must indeed be relentless, but the killings—either by the police or by masked vigilantes—must be stopped!” he added.

This, David said, will remain as their stubborn and relentless plea.