MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) claimed Saturday that the country has fallen into chaos amid the government's war on drugs, which saw its highest 7-day death toll last week.
"Ang gulo ng bayan!" said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
(The country is in chaos!)
"Ang opisyal na pumatay ay may parangal. Ang pinatay ay sinisisi. Hindi na makapagpaliwanag ang mga bangkay sa bintang sa kanila 'Nanlaban kasi.' Hindi na nila masabi 'Nagmakaawa po ako hindi ako lumaban!' Sino ang magtatanggol sa kanila?"
(The official who kills gets an award. Those killed get the blame. The dead cannot answer allegations that they were killed because they fought authorities. They can no longer say, 'I begged them, I did not put up a fight.' Who will defend them?)
Police anti-drug efforts left at least 91 people dead last week, including 32 people in Bulacan and Kian Lloyd Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student in Caloocan.
President Rodrigo Duterte had brushed aside questions of irregularities in the Bulacan raids, saying the drug sweep was in fact "good."
Villegas however questioned why only the poor are killed in the drug operations while the powerful are seemingly given special treatment.
"Bakit ang mga mahihirap na lang lagi ang binabaril at kapag mayamang 'malakas sa itaas' ay kailangan muna ng imbestigasyon at affidavit?" he said.
(Why are the poor always shot dead while investigations and affidavits are needed first for the wealthy, who have ties to those in power?)
"Ang gulo ng bayan! May maling nangyayari sa bayan! May dapat iwasto sa bayan! May dapat pagsisihan ang bayan! Humingi tayo ng tawad sa Diyos," he added.
(The country is in chaos! Something wrong is happening in the country. We need to correct it. The country has to repent. Let us God for forgiveness.)
Villegas, the archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan, said church bells in his archdiocese will ring every night for 15 minutes from August 22 to November 27 to "call for justice for the slain, plague the conscience of their killers and awaken the country."
"Ibalik natin ang pagiging tao. Ibalik natin ang dangal Pilipino. Ikampana ang dangal ng buhay! Ikampana ang karapatan ng mga pinapatay na mahihirap!" ended his statement.
(Let is bring back our humanity. Let us bring back our pride in being Filipinos. Let the bells ring for the sanctity of life! Let the bell rings for the poor who are slain.)
Villegas will step down on December as head of the CBCP. He will be succeeded by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, known to be close to the family of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The national police has repeatedly maintained that officers were acting within the law during anti-drug efforts.
The Duterte administration has also said that reported figures on the drug war's death toll -- from 7,000 to 9,000 -- were overblown.
Latest PNP data show that a total of 3,451 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017.
The PNP also said that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 not drug-related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said.