Bishop renews call for dialogue with gov’t on drug war

Bishop renews call for dialogue with gov’t on drug war

Thousands of supporters call for justice as Kian Loyd Delos Santos is laid to rest at the La Loma Cemetery in Quezon City, August 26, 2017. VINCENT GO

MANILA— A Catholic bishop has called on government authorities to sit down with various stakeholders and start a new cycle of dialogue to better address the country’s drug problem.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said the killings must stop and instead find other solutions without disregarding the rule of law.

“Enough with the killings! Stop the killings, for heaven’s sake!” David said in his homily during the funeral Mass for slain Kian Loyd Delos Santos at the Santa Quiteria Parish Church in Caloocan City on Saturday

“Let us please sit down and discuss reasonably as citizens of one country. Let us help out in addressing this problem of illegal drugs properly, but not in a manner that has no respect for the law,” he said.

The bishop stressed the need for a change in the drug war’s paradigm from a manner that treats drug addicts “as vermin, as non-humans”.

“Addiction is a disease; let us please address it as a health issue!” said the incoming Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has earlier offered to broker talks on the government’s controversial drive against narcotics trade amid the recent killing of Delos Santos, a Grade 11 Catholic school student.

One of the reasons for the division, he said, is because of one institution that wrongly believes it has the best solution against the menace.

“All Filipinos agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. We must face and act upon (it) together, as one people. Unfortunately, it has divided us,” Tagle said.

For David, the death of Delos Santos should be treated by the government as a “wake-up” call against its “cruel and simplistic solution” of “exterminating” drug suspects.

According to him, illegal drugs will continue to flood the country “if there is no systematic effort” to trace the source.

A huge crowd composed of family, friends and supporters attended the funeral of Delos Santos who was shot dead after allegedly engaging cops in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan on August 16.

A CCTV footage, however, showed cops supposedly dragging the victim before he was found dead.

The prelate said the Church and the government can work together for the healing of addicts through community-based rehabilitation programs.

“But more importantly, let us heal the divisions, the conflicts, and the exchanges of cruel words. Let us rid ourselves of anything that diminishes our humanity,” he added.

Delos Santos was buried at the La Loma Cemetery, also in Caloocan, after a funeral procession that took more than five hours.

The prelate also assured the Delos Santos’ parents that their son’s life has not been wasted, even if it was cut short by “senseless violence and cruelty”.

“It is not wasted because it has served as a thorn that has pricked the consciences of our people and has awakened them from moral slumber,” he said. CBCPNews