Bishop praises Supreme Court for ‘courage’

Bishop praises Supreme Court for ‘courage’

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan. CBCPNEWS

By CBCP News

August 19, 2020

Manila, Philippines

The acting head of the Catholic bishops’ leadership lauded a Supreme Court decision upholding human rights in a drug case.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said it’s about time the nation hears from the magistrates what the people have been saying “with muffled voices: ‘We can’t breathe…’ or ‘The lives of the poor do matter'”.

“Bravo, Supreme Court,” Bishop David said.

“Now the words are written by our own Supreme Court Justices, who, thankfully, are mustering the courage to behave as an independent and co-equal branch of government in a supposedly democratic nation…,” he said.

In an 11-3 decision on a six-year old case, the SC acquitted the drug suspect from Tabuk City, Kalinga, who has been in jail for six years, because he was nabbed on an invalid search.

The high court affirmed that warrantless police searches and seizures based solely on unverified anonymous tips are not valid.

The bishop lamented that what the government’s bloody war on drugs has destroyed is not the narcotics trade “but the integrity and credibility” of the police institution.

“It has profoundly demoralized the ‘few good people’ within this law enforcement body, who carry out their duties but with due respect for the law,” he said.

The Kalookan diocese comprises parishes in the southern part of Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas covering some of the country’s poorest communities.

In some occasions, David described his diocese as a “killing field” because of the relentless killings of drug suspects.

“Since the war on drugs began, the impunity, the blatant disrespect for the law, for human life, human dignity and human rights, has been more the rule than the exception with regard to the conduct of our ‘law enforcers,'” David said.

The SC stressed that it will not allow the Constitution “to be added to the mounting body count” in the drug war.

“When the Constitution is disregarded, the battle against illegal drugs becomes a self-defeating and self-destructive enterprise. A battle waged against illegal drugs that tramples on the rights of the people is not a war on drugs; it is a war against the people,” the SC said.

“The state’s steadfastness in eliminating the drug menace must be equally matched by its determination to uphold and defend the Constitution,” added the court.

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