Manila, Philippines, Oct 20, 2016 / 23:02 pm
Amid President Rodrigo Duterte's fierce war against the underworld of drugs in the Philippines, the country's bishops are rallying with a pastoral appeal to end unjust violence while encouraging efforts to maintain law and order.
“We are disturbed by an increasing number of reports of suspected drug-peddlers, pushers and others about whom reports of criminal activity have been received, have been shot, supposedly because they resist arrest,” stated a recent press release from the Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
“It is equally disturbing that vigilantism seems to be on the rise,” the bishops continued, noting the increasing number of murders portrayed in the media.
Since his election in May, President Duterte has handed out death sentences to drug dealers in an effort to end the illegal drug culture in the Philippines. Although over 600,000 dealers have already turned themselves in since the campaign, these efforts have also resulted in police brutality on the streets of Manila.
Stories such as the one of Renato and Jaypee Bertes are not uncommon tales.
The New York Times reported on the Filipino father-son duo who smoked shabu, a common type of methamphetamine, and occasionally sold the drug on the streets of Manila. When police barged into their home and arrested the two men, they were beaten, tortured and eventually shot to death while in police custody.
According to the New York Times, over 1,800 people have been similarly killed at the hands of police or vigilantes over the past few months. Alarmed by the number of killings, Filipino bishops have spoken out against the violence and have called for true justice from members of law enforcement.
“To kill a suspect outright, no matter how much surveillance work may have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified,” the bishops stated.