MANILA - The country's illegal drug problem should be solved but not by taking innocent lives, an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Tuesday.
"We as a Church would like the drug menace to stop. We do not want drugs to proliferate because drugs affect not only an individual but families, relationships, society as a whole. But then again not to the extent that we are going to see people dying," said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of CBCP's Permanent Committee on Public Affairs.
"Tama na suportahan natin itong war on drugs but not to the extent na papatay ka na ng tao. Not to the extent that the innocent and even children are to be killed," he told ANC's Beyond Politics.
The priest urged Filipinos to open their eyes to the current human rights situation in the country.
"We do not applaud what is wrong. I think people should realize that. Because if we continue to applaud what is wrong, people who do that will have the orientation that somebody is doing it right," he said.
Secillano said the drug war targets the poor and marginalized, resulting in a loss of peaceful co-existence and respect for fellow human beings.
"Ngayon ang tingin dito ng Simbahan, aba’y wala na ata tayong respeto sa isa’t isa. That’s one value na parang nakita natin na pinawalang-halaga 'yan," he said.
"Pangalawa, kundi 'yung peaceful co-existence. Hindi naman sa nakikiaalam ang Simbahan, kundi gusto naman natin na mabuhay tayo nang mapayapa at kung kinakailangan na may gawin tayo, gawin natin iyan sa pamamaraan ng pagsunod sa batas," he added.
Secillano, meanwhile, said the prayer rally attended by hundreds of faithful on Sunday was successful. He clarified that the homily of CBCP President and Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas was not directed at any particular group.
"It’s very balanced. He did not condemn anybody but he actually challenged everybody including the priests and the bishops. He even told the congregation that nobody should be blamed for this. We only have ourselves to be blamed," he said.
"But then again if you actually knew that you are involved in killing, so that is for you. If you actually support the so-called EJKs, the message is for you. But more than that I think it should be the Filipino people who should have a realization that what’s happening now in our country is not right. When we speak of killings, that’s not something right."
Secillano said the Catholic Church has launched anti-drug programs in partnership with different government agencies.
"In fact, it’s not only reaching out, it’s a collaboration. In the different dioceses here in Metro Manila, each has its own program. So in the Archdiocese of Manila, we call that 'Sanlakbay', in Caloocan, they call that 'Salubong'," he said.
Per police figures, some 3,800 died in anti-drug operations from July 2016 until the time the President tasked the PDEA to lead the campaign.
Human rights organizations place the death toll at 13,000, but the administration has said the figure is overblown.
The government has repeatedly asserted that it does not sanction summary killings of drug suspects and that those slain in operations had put up violent resistance.