Statement of the Obispo Maximo, The Most Revd Ephraim S. Fajutagana, on the unabated killings and culture of impunity under President Duterte’s War on Drugs
“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me?” (Lamentations 1:12)
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente expresses her sorrows for the harrowing spate of drug-related summary killings in the country – an all-out war against the proliferation of drugs that has so far resulted to the suspicious and enraging means that alleged suspects, mostly poor, are being killed regardless of who the perpetrators are.
Death toll has reached an alarming rate, with nearly a thousand since Rodrigo Roa Duterte assumed presidency two months ago. While we are one with his commitment to end criminality in his first six months as president, we cannot turn a blind eye to this grave injustice being committed against poor families who are being victimized in this war on drugs.
In a country filled with too much inequality and oppression, even his administration’s war on drugs is showing a big disparity on how it treats the rich from the poor. It is saddening to see this campaign seemingly towing the same path of elitist politics. While killings of those involved in the petty illegal drug trade are sanctioned, affluent narco-politicians are “invited” and asked to “explain,” and then return to the comforts of their turfs unscathed.
To genuinely resolve the social menace, we call on President Duterte to review and reconsider his strategy on this war on drugs. We urge him, as the country’s top official, to protect its people’s rights – their right to life, most specially. It is his principal duty as president to enforce the law and uphold the interests of the people. We, therefore, ask him to address the killings of drug suspects from suspicious police operations and those committed by vigilantes. These must be investigated at all cost.
The proliferation of drugs, after all, is but rooted in the social inequality and injustice long plaguing the country. If his promise of bringing about change is true, then it is high time that the marginalized and the underprivileged be given an opportunity to uplift their living conditions and veer away from the realities that are making them vulnerable to big illegal drugs traders. Those involved in this petty illegal trade who are dropping dead due to this war against drugs are victims of this unjust society.
We feel sorrow and express sympathy to families and homes which have been destroyed by drugs. We share the pain of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who were victimized by those under the influence of illegal drugs. But it is equally hurting to see families grieving for their loved ones who were denied of their right to life in the name of this war on drugs.
No amount of killing will succeed in putting an end to the drug menace. We strongly oppose the senseless killing of people that now plagues the nation. Such brutality and barbarity have no place in our society. We are imploring for the respect of our common humanity. Outright disregard to human rights and human life will only reinforce the culture of violence and impunity.
Lest we be misunderstood, we share President Duterte’s determination to destroy drug syndicates in the country. We believe that illegal drug-trade is a social menace and it must be put to an end. But this must be done without neglecting the inherent value of human life. We are bound by our Christian faith to protect the gift of life. We cannot remain passive. It is a duty that falls upon us all.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente cannot look the other way. The carnage must stop. The blood of ordinary people must no longer be spilled. The merchants of death must be put behind bars. The bloodlust of vigilante killings must no longer be satisfied.
We should not wait for more people to be killed. The culture of impunity must end.
In defense of human life,
† The Most Revd Ephraim S. Fajutagana
23rd August 2016
Commemoration of the Cry of Pugadlawin