The head of the Ateneo de Manila University on Friday slammed the wave of killings that has gripped the country, most of them linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, as he sought justice for an one of their teachers who was shot dead recently.
One of the country's top universities is "joining our voice with other sympathetic voices in civil society," to raise the alarm over hundreds killed one month into Duterte's six-year term, said Ateneo President Jett Villarin, a Jesuit priest.
"Because of the fundamental Gospel value and sanctity of each person’s life, the death of anyone regardless of virtue cannot but diminish us, and any society or culture that encourages and multiplies death cheapens life for everyone," Villarin said in a statement.
Math teacher Emmanuel Jose "Em-J" Magno Pavia, an Ateneo Alumnus, was killed while on his way home to Marikina last week. Police have not established the motive for the attack.
"Though official investigation continues, under no circumstances can the killing of such a young and dedicated teacher be spared condemnation in the strongest terms," Villarin said.
He said Pavia's death, as well as the spate of killings around the Philippines "compel us to examine our situation and to respond in the light of our common faith in a loving God."
In a rare show of unity with rival De La Salle University, Villarin said Ateneo found "resonance with the sentiments of our friends from the La Sallian community on this pressing concern."
READ: De La Salle president urges students, teachers to speak against killings
Villarin also urged the Ateneo community to "promote reverence for life, respect for human rights, and restorative justice; Espouse best practices in crime prevention and control; Watch over the enforcement of equality before the law, due process, and mandated judicial processes in instances of criminal arrest," among others.
He said Ateneans must also stop efforts to reinstate death penalty or the probable lowering of the age of criminal liability.
"At the advent of a new administration, the hope of authentic social change and personal transformation is raised before us once more. These cannot be truly achieved with fear as primary motivation or retribution as auxiliary deterrent. If real change is to happen, it can only come when we hold before us the value and sanctity of every person’s life," Villarin said.