The following pastoral letter was read at the church I regularly attend. This was 8AM February 5th 2017.
Read the full pastoral statement of the CBCP on drug-related killings below.
Beloved People of God
We, your bishops, are deeply concerned due to many deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs. This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers. We are concerned not only for those who have been killed. The situation of the families of those killed is also cause for concern. Their lives have only become worse. An Additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor. Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account. An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong. It is considered as normal, and, even worse, something that (according to them) needs to be done.
We are one with many of our countrymen who want change. But change must be guided by truth and justice.
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We stand for some basic teachings. These teachings are rooted in our being human, our being Filipino, and our being Christian.
1. The life of every person comes from God. It is he who gives it, and it is he alone who can take it back. Not even the government has a right to kill life because it is only God’s steward and not the owner of life.
2. The opportunity to change is never lost in every person. This is because God is merciful, as our Holy Father Pope Francis repeatedly teaches. We just finished celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy. These events deepened our awareness that the Lord Jesus Christ offered his own life for sinners, to redeem them and give them a new future.
3. To destroy one’s own life and the life of another, is a grave sin and does evil to society. The use of drugs is a sign that a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
4. Every person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Society has ways and processes to catch, prove guilty and punish perpetrators of crimes. This process must be followed, especially by agents of the law.
5. Any action that harms another (seriously) is a grave sin. To push drugs is a grave sin as is killing (except in self-defense). We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong.
6. The deep root of the drug problem and criminality is the poverty of the majority, the destruction of the family and corruption in society. The step we have to take is to overcome poverty, especially through the giving of permanent work and sufficient wages to workers. Let us strengthen and carry forward the unity and love of the family members. Let us not allow any law that destroys the unity of families. We must also give priority to reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges. The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality. Often it is the poor who suffer from this system. We also call upon elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests.
7. To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it. If we neglect the drug addicts and pushers we have become part of the drug problem. If we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths.
We in the Church will continue to speak against evil even as we acknowledge and repent of our own shortcomings. We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other. We will help drug addicts so that they may be healed and start a new life. We will stand in solidarity and care for those left behind by those who have been killed and for the victims of drug addicts. Let us renew our efforts to strengthen families.
Those of us who are leaders in the Church should strive to push forward or continue programs that will uplift the poor, like livelihood, education and health programs. Above all we will live up to — we all will live up to — becoming a Church of the Poor.
Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent. Let us put into practice not only our native inner strength but the strength that comes from our Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus promised us: “You will have affliction in this world, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:35,37) Yes, indeed, “For the Spirit that is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)
As we commemorate the 100th year of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, let us respond to her call for prayer and repentance for the peace of our communities and of our country shrouded in the darkness of vice and death.
Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, Pray for us.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
Abp. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
January 30, 2017
On the bright side , the time it took to read this letter was shorter than the usual sermon so that was a good thing. I will not argue with the commandment Thou Shall Not Kill. Still, like many things we are given in life, it is not what is said but what is not said that we should be concerned about.
We, your bishops, are deeply concerned due to many deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs.
The life of every person comes from God. It is he who gives it, and it is he alone who can take it back.
Please show me the pastoral letter where you show your concern about the many deaths and killings performed by the drug lords themselves. Please show me the pastoral letter where you chastise previous administrations for allowing drugs to mushroom to this point. I am just guessing here but if we did an audit of your donations, how much of your haul originates from wealthy donors with connections to the illegal drug trade?
The use of drugs is a sign that a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
I agree with the first phrase. What you leave out though is the willingness of a person to defend their illegal drug business with firearms is also a sign that “a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. ” Maybe I have the wrong perception but this is not the type of person who will willingly submit themselves to rehabilitation if the government asks nicely. That type of person is most likely to shoot the person doing the asking.
Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent.
The opportunity to change is never lost in every person.
Where was this pastoral letter between 2010-2016?? If you recall at the start of the Duterte term, hundreds of thousands of people involved in illegal drugs voluntarily surrendered out of fear of what was to come. My theory was this mass surrender was motivated by the fact Duterte has something his predecessor never had and that is a track record. Noynoy Aquino talked about “walang corrupt walang mahirap” ad nauseam. Here is a guy who was 50 years old when he told the country he was the best choice for president. A combined twelve years as a Congressman and a Senator. He did not have one law to his name in those 12 years. He was never known for one deed in his life. Not one signature move in his adult life despite being a member of the lucky sperm club. Yet his campaign promise was that he will get rid of poverty and corruption?? What is worse is this predominantly Catholic country believed him. I know the faithful are often referred to as “the flock” as in flock of sheep but this is ridiculous.
Prevention is the best cure. As Sun Tze put it in the Art of War “to subjugate the enemy’s army without doing battle is the highest of excellence” Don’t you think that Duterte deserves some credit for subjugating the enemy’s army without doing battle? He got those initial wave who surrendered to “confess their sins”. That is what this is about right? Asking for mercy by admitting what you are. Owning your own baggage.
I understand worshiping Jesus Christ is part of your job description. Noynoy Aquino could not possibly be mistaken for Jesus Christ. Or can he?? I ran across this quote in an obscure website called Get Real Philippines:
Noynoy as I have said many times before, lived the first fifty years of life much like the way Jesus Christ lived his twenties. There is nothing recorded. If he actually did something worth noting we would have heard it none stop in his campaign.
“I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way.”
Colonel Jessup – A Few Good Men ( 1992)
Let me play “Devil’s” advocate. Here is Noynoy, a guy who did nothing but promised everything. A president who I assume help encourage the drug epidemic that you say is not being dealt with by the moral standards that you preach in this pastoral letter. You acknowledge there is a mess because you say so in the letter. I want to see the pastoral letter where you blame the guy who messed up the room. All I see is a pastoral letter of you complaining about the guy who is cleaning up the mess. Isn’t prevention the best cure??
The mere fact that thousands surrendered at the infancy of Duterte’s term tells us a few things: 1) these people existed and had no desire to surrender or cease their evil ways under a Noynoy administration. 2) actions speak louder than words. Duterte was voted in despite being “only ” a mayor because he has a twenty year resume of walking the talk. In 2010 did corrupt officials resign in the thousands because they cowered under the ” Walang corrupt walang mahirap slogan ? They did not. Noynoy did nothing about it before he was president and he did nothing about it after he was president. What Noynoy Aquino did give us was a dog and pony show in 2012 at the expense of the taxpayers. Corona was removed as Chief Justice because adult senators resorted to picha pie arguments. That and 50 million incentives per yes vote of course courtesy of the taxpayer. In a country where 1 in 4 people live in extreme poverty I did not see a pastoral letter about that.
I am looking for evidence where you publicly called out Noynoy Aquino from 2010-2016. Whether a pastoral letter or anything else. Let us go back to his walang corrupt , walang mahirap mantra. He did not get rid of either which was no surprise to me. I have said in the past that only three scenarios that could have existed for a pre presidential Benigno Simeon Aquino:
- He was corrupt like every other senator and congressman. The Alfred E. Neuman Approach. What Me Worry?
- He was not corrupt, saw the corruption in others and felt it was not his job to stop it. The Doris Day Approach. Whatever will be will be.
- He did not see any corruption because he was too detached and disinterested from any kind of real work to be aware what his colleagues were doing. The Sgt. Schultz approach. “I see nothing!”
As I have said earlier, I am one of the flock. I am not a lapsed Catholic. I know what they teach. I think a good student is one who can sniff out hypocrisy emanating from his teacher. A teacher must be consistent. Noynoy promised something he did not deliver. Your letter is proof that corruption problem plagues us today. The pope (your boss) said “the corrupt should be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea”. So either Noynoy is not corrupt or start looking for a rock and some rope. Where is the pastoral letter?
Is it safe to say today Noynoy was full of empty promises? That phrase empty promises I hear at least once a year when I go to church. When I hear it , the pledge mentions Satan by name. That bozo gave a false promise to get elected and was the president for six years of a Catholic nation. There are currently pending cases for graft , multiple homicide and malversation. President Duterte is only doing what he promised to do. Noynoy Aquino on the other hand seems to come up empty in his promises department. Doesn’t he compare favorably to Satan? Even just a little? Doesn’t Satan in a barong holding office by the Pasig River warrant a pastoral letter? Maybe in your eyes it does in 2017 but how about six years earlier?
The situation of the families of those killed is also cause for concern. Their lives have only become worse.
Once again I agree with the tone of this statement. Families are hurt. Nowhere in your letter do you address the families of law enforcement whose lives are at stake when confronting well armed drug distributors. You don’t even ask for prayers for police that are doing their duty and try to minimize the damage of drug dealers. Drug dealers have high powered guns for a reason. They expect to kill anybody who gets in the way of their drug dealing. Sorry but people like that are too irrational to spell rehabilitation let alone participate in it. Yes worry about their lives but they have chosen their fate but who they associate with and the methods they choose to “preserve their livelihood”. What does the Bible say in Matthew 18:8 ? “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.”. It seems to me this pastoral letter is more concerned with the hand that should be cut off than the safety of the rest of the body that did not choose a livelihood of the drug trade.
“The nicest part of it all is meeting the people in the service. The guys in uniform are like cops and firemen. They’re basic, solid people, and they’re in the business of risking their lives for people they don’t know.”
The drug trade harms guilty people and innocent people as you say. I just wish you also showed some concern for those who are tasked to slow down the drug trade. This is not Star Trek where you can set your phasers to stun while your opponent’s phasers are permanently set to kill. Yes I get it, you hate Duterte. Shouldn’t you also hate people who helped the drug trade flourish too? Where is the Pastoral letter there?
A Time for Everything
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Drug dealers have killed ever since drugs have been regulated. Unless I have lost my grip on reality, rival drug lords kill each other’s people no matter who the president is. Translation the deaths have always been there. All the press did was publish those statistics July 1, 2016. So all that Duterte gets stuck with the carnage bill. For all the numbers that the press throws out they never show how they arrive at that number. All anybody cares about is the number. I guess people never died dealing illegal drugs during the regime of Ramos, Marcos, Cory, Noynoy , Gloria and Erap. Nobody published those stats then.
It is completely naive to believe that you can damage the illegal drug trade which is populated with armed thugs with your “R” word. ” People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. ” George Orwell. While I do believe in prayer there is also a saying that God helps those who help themselves. Face it. Even Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas do not believe you. If they did , they would walk into a drug dealer’s den, only armed with rosaries and yell “Rehabilitation!!” Mar and Noynoy were never accused of killing drug addicts. They just left them alone. Which for you is a better solution unless you can show me a pastoral letter.
This letter is full of reminders about teachings of our faith and identifying sinners. I am wondering though if this letter and the author are not committing the sin of omission.
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