Cops turn EJK whistleblowers seek Church protection

Cops turn EJK whistleblowers seek Church protection

Archbishop Socrates Villegas holds a candle as he leads a prayer service for the victims of extrajudicial killings and those who were slain under the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Dagupan City, Sept. 23, 2017. GLENN MUNOZ LOPEZ

MANILA— Some law enforcers sought the help of the Catholic Church and said they are ready to expose all they know about the wave of drug-related killings in the country.

The whistleblowers recently met with Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other officials of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to ask for succor and protection.

“They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them,” Villegas said in a statement issued Monday.

He said the archdiocese through its “ministry of mercy” is willing to provide sanctuary to the cops, including their families if necessary, but they must be able to present evidence of their allegations.

With the help of independent volunteer lawyers, he said, “we will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories.”

The archbishop assured that the Church will not induce the policemen to speak or make any allegations if they wish to testify in any investigations.

“If their preference is to stay with us in the Church, they will not be turned over to the State under its own witness protection program,” according to Villegas.

“In the areas of pastoral counselling and values formation, the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan will be the loving teacher and mother of our law enforcers. Let us be guardian angels for one another,” he added.

In a previous statement, Villegas threw support behind two self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) members, Edgar Motabato and retired police officer Arturo Lascañas.

Both Motabato and Lascañas have implicated President Rodrigo Duterte in the DDS, a vigilante group that allegedly killed hundreds of suspected criminals in Davao City, where the chief executive was once mayor.

Duterte has repeatedly denied ordering killings, either as president or mayor.

More than 3,800 suspects who allegedly resisted arrest have been killed in anti-drug operations since Duterte took office.

Human rights groups, however, blame thousands of vigilante-style killings on the law enforcers, a claim that the government denied. CBCPNews

Read Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ statement below:

To be Angels of Compassion

Law enforcers have come forward confidentially to us, their spiritual leaders, to seek sanctuary, succor and protection. They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them.

We will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories. Within the bounds of Church and civil laws, we express our willingness to grant them accommodation, shelter and protection (including their families if necessary). The hospitality, comfort and acceptance that they seek from the Church will be attended to. Whatever we do to the least of our brethren we do to Christ. (cfr. Mt. 25:40)

If such law-enforcers wish to testify, then the Catholic Church will see to it that they are in no way induced to speak, to disclose nor to make allegations by any member of the clergy or the hierarchy. Statements, especially in the form of affidavits and depositions, must be made with the assistance of competent independent counsel.  If their preference is to stay with us in the Church, they will not be turned over to the State under its own witness-protection program.

My brother priests in Lingayen Dagupan are requested, in the name of the Lord, to open their hearts and their rectories, the convents of religious communities and seminaries as well as other secure buildings and to be responsible for the security of the gallant men and women in uniform who may have something important to tell the nation or to testify on before the proper forum.

But our priests are admonished to refrain from discussing with “asylum-seekers” the contents of their testimonies and depositions.  It is furthermore recommended that volunteer lawyers, preferably those who belong to alternative law groups, assist the witness and also readily affirm that no member of the clergy instructed, directed, and couched the testimonies they give.

But when they so decide or opt to identify themselves and to testify, every means must be provided for a fair, accurate and unconstrained or unrestrained testimony that may be used in evidence.

We are likewise putting our Ministry of Mercy at the service of these law enforcers who need the hospitality of the Church. In the areas of pastoral counselling and values formation, the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan will be the loving teacher and mother of our law enforcers.  Let us be guardian angels for one another.

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, October 2, 2017, Memorial of the Guardian Angels

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan