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Justice needed to stop impunity, bishops say

Justice needed to stop impunity, bishops say

Relatives of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings speak during press conference with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Dec. 14, 2016. CBCPNews

At least two Catholic bishops have welcomed the International Criminal Court’s commitment to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte over the killings related to the administration’s war on drugs.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said such probe is necessary to bring justice to the victims of extrajudicial killings and to show that nobody can abuse human rights with impunity.

“All will be held accountable for anything that they do especially those in power. The more power, the more accountability,” he said.

The Hague-based court have started a preliminary investigation into Duterte’s ruthless anti-drug campaign, which has claimed thousands of lives since it began in July 2016.

ICC prosecutors will examine whether crimes against humanity have been committed and whether there is enough evidence that the case falls under its jurisdiction.

Various human rights groups said that the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs has given rise to a culture of impunity.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said it’s high time that the increasing drug-related violence be investigated, including the cases of killings in Davao when Duterte was mayor.

“The ICC should include the alleged crimes committed by President Duterte when he was mayor Davao,” said Bastes.

“These extrajudicial killings must stop now! We hope that the conscience of this administration will realize the dignity of human persons, the value of God’s gift of life and the great crime of murder,” he said.

In October last year, several policemen sought the Church’s protection and offered to testify against Duterte’s war on drugs.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said the potential witnesses whom he declined to identify have come forward because they were bothered by their consciences. CBCPNews