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Echoing the Cry

Filed under: Documents,Features,Statements |

(A cry of pain, of loss, of sadness and powerlessness, and of indignation)

 

We are deeply saddened and totally alarmed by the many reports of killings of suspected criminals and drug offenders. The arbitrary killings of more than 100 suspected offenders done by the police and unidentified people, violate their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, right to due process and right to fair trial. And most of the victims are of the lower strata of the society – the least and the weak. The silence engulfing the phenomenon shows the tacit approval of the citizenry.

Once more the body of Christ is pierced by these reckless and wanton disregard for the sanctity of life. A culture of violence and death threatens to engulf us all. This is not the way of Christ. We have strayed from the path of love, tolerance and peace.
As Franciscans, we cannot be complicit or silent on these assaults to human rights and human dignity. We would like to voice out our opposition to these daily killings. In our 1987 Constitution, a Filipino is endowed with fundamental, political, civil, social, economic, and cultural rights and is entitled to the protection of the law. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights states that: “No Filipino shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.” And that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.” Everyone is entitled to the right to life and its protection by the State. No one has the right to take life unjustly. Thus we advocate addressing the drug menace within our legal framework and the principles of human dignity – not through vigilantism. We support the campaign against illegal drugs in the country. But we denounce the sins of injustice and violence perpetrated against the least, the powerless and the weak. We stress fortifying our institutions and educating people of their democratic rights in the fight against crime, drug addiction and corruption. A drug-free society basically relies on its educated and empowered citizenry.

As Christians, it is our fundamental ethical, moral, and religious duty to promote and support human life and human dignity. St. Francis of Assisi sees every human person as the image and likeness of God. This policy of extra-judicial killing is very far from the spirit of the liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an obstacle to the realization of the God’s kingdom. Our faith tells us to treat the vulnerable segments of our society with mercy and compassion. It is our mission to promote justice and to critique policies/structures that are unjust (see PCP-II, 248). We uphold the value of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity (John Paul II, To the People of Tondo, Feb. 18, 1981, no. 7).

 

FR. CIELO ALMAZAN, OFM
Chairperson, Inter-Franciscan Ministers’ Conference of the Philippines
August 17, 2016

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