MANILA - The bishop of Caloocan called on the administration to change its approach in combating illegal drugs, as he lamented the increase in the number of killings in his area.
The most recent drug war fatality in the Bishop Ambo David's area of responsibility was Kian Loyd Santos, a 17-year-old student who died after he supposedly shot it out with anti-narcotics cops.
"I have the largest informal settlers' community. These people are supporters of the President. They feel betrayed. Especially ang family ni Kian Loyd," he told ABS-CBN News.
While police claim that Delos Santos was killed while evading arrest, a CCTV footage showed otherwise.
Bishop David said there have been a lot of similar killings in his area, mostly during police operations while some are carried out by vigilantes.
Among the cases, he said, were the kidnapping and killing of 19-year-old Raymart Siapo in Navotas; and also the killing of Jee Ick-Joo, whose body was found in a funeral parlor in Caloocan.
"Masyado nang maraming similar situation, lalo na sa amin. I've always been low profile pero because all of these are happening in my diocese, kailangan ko talagang maninindigan at magsalita," he said.
Bishop David believes killing drug addicts and pushers won't solve the drug menace. He stressed that the illegal drug problem must be considered a health and poverty issue.
"We do not believe all these people are criminals even if some of them may have committed criminal offenses. We believe that addicts are sick people who need care," he said.
"Sana i-address natin siya sa root. I don't think this is the solution—patayan kaliwa't kanan—dalawang klaseng patayan: 'yung sa police operation at ['yung] ginagawa ng mga naka-bonnet," he added.
Bishop David has been celebrating Masses for Delos Santos in the past few days. A funeral Mass is also being arranged for the teen, with the bishop will be the main celebrant.
-- With reports from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News