“The poor are slowly dying from joblessness due to ridiculous confusing quarantine classifications. Incompetence kills people. Ineptitude kills nations and economies. Hunger kills slowly,” said the bishops.
“Bullets kill. Viruses kill. Governance without direction kills. Corruption kills. Trolls kill with fake news. Hunger kills,” they added.
“When will the killings stop? The poor pay for the corruption of the powerful. The nation is sinking in debt,” read the bishops’ statement.
The Church leaders called for a “full investigation” into reports of corruption in the use of government funds intended for pandemic response.
They also called for free elections scheduled next year, saying that it will “allow the selection and change of representatives” and is “the most effective way to make political authority accountable.”
“This is not the time for despair but courage,” said the bishops.
“This is not the time to be quiet but to stand up for God. Against the tide of murders and plunder, let us bear witness to truth and life,” they said.
In its 2021 report released early this year, Human Rights Watch said the Philippine government’s “drug war” killings intensified in 2020.
“Drug war” killings in the Philippines in 2020 increased by more than 50 percent during the early months of the pandemic, according to the report.
The police reported in November that since Rodrigo Duterte became president, nearly 8,000 alleged drug suspects had been killed during police operations.
Domestic human rights groups and the governmental Commission on Human Rights believe the actual toll is triple that figure.
(Story continues below)
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Philippine rights monitors reported in 2020 that more than 160 political activists had been killed since Duterte became president in 2016.