Listen to the people, Davao Archbishop urges Duterte

Vina Araneta, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 08 2016 06:13 PM

A baby looks at an armed member of a police SWAT team during a drug raid, in Manila, Philippines, October 7, 2016. Damir Sagolj, Reuters

DAVAO CITY - A prominent Catholic Church leader here on Saturday expressed concern over the rising death toll in the government's war on drugs, as he urged President Rodrigo Duterte to "listen to the people."

Duterte marked his first 100 days in office on Friday with hundreds of drug suspects killed. While eight in 10 Filipinos are satisfied with the campaign, seven in 10 said police should keep suspects alive, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.

"Everybody that I know is worried about it. From my point of view, I think it's the question of violence, getting it into a spiral and it seems intensifying," said Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, who is also co-convenor of the Bishops-Ulama conference, a group that promotes cooperation between Muslims and Christians.

"Wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it and right is right even if nobody is doing it. Our sense of morality, our moral values, our sense of right and wrong is not anymore strict. Our conscience (has) become callous, the end does not justify the means," he said.

Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla at his office in Davao City. Vina Araneta, ABS-CBN News

On Friday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on the faithful to reject violence.

Capalla said Duterte should consider public opinion.

"I would like to ask him to listen to the people, to the poor people who are also suffering, he is the one who loves them and will do everything for them, they have something to say about what's happening, not just to the experts," he said.

Capalla said he wrote to then mayor Duterte in 2001 expressing concern about the alleged summary killings at that time turned the city into a "wild wild west," but he got no response.

A portion of the letter read: "Crimes like individual murder and drug pushing, though a social sin and problem, are not a direct assault on society. It therefore cannot claim to use capital punishment, much less salvaging by death squads as a form of society's self-defense.