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Church \ Church in Asia

Philippine Bishops speak out over Duterte's anti-drugs campaign

An image show the Bishops of the Philippines - RV

An image show the Bishops of the Philippines - RV

06/02/2017 08:49

(Vatican Radio) Catholic bishops in the Philippines on Sunday called for resistance to a wave of apparent executions by police and vigilantes. In a pastoral letter read out in Mass, the bishops said not speaking out on the matter is tantamount to complicity.

Listen to Alsatair Wanklyn's report

In their pastoral letter, the Philippine bishops said while there is a drugs problem that needs to be faced, the enormous death toll is unacceptable.

Many are killed not because of drugs, the bishops wrote. And those who kill them are not brought to account.

The bishops added: An even greater concern is the "indifference" of many to what is going on.

"To keep stilent in front of evil is to be an accomplice," they said.

There have been more than 7,000 recorded killings in only seven months, since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched a campaign against drug pushers and users.

There have been reports of bounties paid to police officers who kill, and last week human rights campaign group Amnesty International accused police of hiring contract killers.

"One killing is a killing to many - we have seven thousand. 

Amnesty campaigner Wilnor Papa went on to urge the International Criminal Court to investigate.

President Duterte responded, calling the Amnesty campaigners "naive." He said the killings are not random but warranted.

In their letter, the bishops said Philippine officials have no right to take away life, as they are God's steward and not the owners of life.

They added, corruption is a serious problem among police and judges. They said one reason for the spread of lawlessness is the slow pace of court cases. And in this, often it is the poor who suffer most.

Last week, the Philippine national police chief announced a pause in the anti-drugs campaign, citing a need to drive out corrupt officers.

But he suggested the war on drugs would then resume, unabated.

06/02/2017 08:49