Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle yesterday called for an end to the “waste of human lives” following a brutal week in President Duterte’s drug war in which 17-year-old Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos from Caloocan City was among dozens killed.
Police raids dubbed “One Time Big Time” saw at least 76 people shot dead, authorities said, as rights groups and lawmakers condemned the operation as an alarming “killing spree” in Duterte’s flagship campaign.
Tagle, the highest-ranking Church official in the predominantly Catholic nation, expressed concern about the increase in the number of deaths.
“We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives,” Tagle said in a statement read in Masses in Metro Manila.
“The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”
Tagle called for nine days of prayer for people who have died in the drug war.
“Those with sorrowful hearts and awakened consciences may come to your pastors to tell your stories and we will document them for the wider society,” he said.
The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines joined Tagle yesterday in denouncing the deaths, calling on the faithful to ring church bells daily in solidarity with the victims.
“The sound of the bells is a wake-up call for a nation that no longer knows how to condole with the bereaved, that is cowardly to call out evil. The sound of the bells is a call to stop consenting to the killings!” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
Duterte’s allies in the Senate have prepared a resolution condemning the killing of Delos Santos and directing a new Senate investigation to determine the accountability of the Philippine National Police in its renewed anti-illegal drugs campaign that may have resulted in unnecessary and unjustified deaths and or killings.
Senate President Koko Pimentel said details of the resolution would be finalized by the members of the Senate majority bloc in a caucus last night.
“It’s about 95 percent done. Styling only,” Pimentel said.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson said there is a growing sentiment among members of the Senate majority to investigate the latest killings, including the death of Delos Santos.
The resolution, he said, may be referred to his Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
“At the outset the sentiment of the majority is that the Senate should intervene and investigate. And I think there is a growing sentiment that this case should be referred to the committee ng public order and dangerous drugs,” Lacson said.
Duterte, 72, launched an unprecedented crackdown on illegal narcotics after winning the presidency last year on a promise to kill thousands of criminals. (AFP, Leslie Ann G. Aquino, and Hannah L. Torregoza)