Drug war turns diocese into ‘killing field’

Drug war turns diocese into ‘killing field’

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan

MANILA— A Catholic bishop said that the Duterte administration’s war on drugs has turned his diocese into a “killing field”.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said he was deeply bothered by the spate of extrajudicial killings in the diocese which covers the cities of Caloocan, Navotas and Malabon.

“To be honest, I have lost count. They are just too many… I have heard it many times during confession, which I cannot disclose to the public,” David said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

The prelate noted that the number of victims from vigilante-style or unexplained killings is much higher compared to those from legitimate police operations.

In the past, he said that 60 percent of the fatalities were victims of summary executions while the remaining 40 percent were killed in encounters with police.

Lately, however, he said that the number of those killed by unidentified assailants already rose to 80 percent.

“We don’t know who they are. They roam around our streets, especially in informal settler communities almost every night. I don’t know why they are invisible,” David said.

The incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines also called for witnesses and vital information to solve the murder cases.

He said it’s about time to speak up and come out in the open by taking a cue from the family of slain Grade 11 student Kian Delos Santos who strongly fight for justice.

“We plead with them to please come out. But can I blame them if they are not willing to because of fear for their lives? But now, I am happy that at least there is one case where the witness are testifying,” he said.

At the same time, he called on the police authorities to do their job as law enforcers and protector of human rights.

“I will never condemn the whole institution for the mistakes of some… but they should cooperate because that means you are also preserving the integrity of your institution,” David added. CBCPNews