(Vatican Radio) Jesuits in the Philippines have raised their voice against the pervasive culture of death unleashed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruthless “war on drugs” saying, “We cannot build the Philippine nation on the cadavers of the Filipino people.” In an appeal to all the dioceses, churches, schools and institutes where the Jesuits are working, they wrote, ”We cannot fight evil with guns and bullets,” “we cannot fight for human beings by denying them their rights.” Entitled “To be United in the Power of the Spirit”, the statement was signed by the Jesuit Provincial Superior.
Appeal to consciences
In the appeal, the Philippine Jesuits said they were joining the multiple voices of the nation’s Catholic community who have deplored the ongoing extrajudicial killings in the country, carried out by the government’s “war on drugs”. They expressed support for Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle appeal to the “consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity” and “to the consciences of those who kill even the helpless…, to stop wasting human lives.”
According to estimates, Duterte’s “drug war” started over a year ago has killed at least 14,000 people, of whom 3,800 were carried out by the police, with thousands of extrajudicial executions that remain unpunished.
War against evil belongs to all
The Jesuits acknowledged that the “threat of illegal drugs is real and destructive,” but the fight against the evil is the duty that belongs not just to the government security forces but to all. "Instead of turning our weapons on one another, we must unite, coordinate, and allow good to ally with good; we must fight this enemy together."
The Jesuits pointed out that the menace of drugs is not just a political or criminal issue, but also a moral concern. ” We cannot fight evil with guns and bullets alone. This evil we must fight with insight, cooperation, cunning, the enlightened use of political and economic power, self-sacrifice, prayer and God’s grace”, they said.
Urging for support for Card. Tagle’s appeal for a “multisectoral dialogue”, the Filipino Jesuits called on all to “understand the situation in depth”. They said Filipinos need to understand the “enemy” in the war on drugs “is not human rights, but lack of commitment to human rights.” “We need to understand why we cannot fight for human beings by denying them their rights,” they explained. To counter international drug cartels and their traffickers “one must not kill the poor, who are their victims,” but reform the structure which keep the poor poor.
The Filipino Jesuits also called for teaching the youth, wealthy or poor, in families, schools and communities about the harm that drugs cause, and the need to be involved in order to overcome bad habits and cultivate good habits.