Catholic Church is Duterte’s strongest opponent

The Catholic Church in the Philippines is showing itself to be President Rodrigo Duterte’s strongest opponent, criticising and renaming Duterte’s “war on drugs” as “extra-judicial killings”.

Bishop Jose Oliveros of Malolos, where 32 of last week’s 81 victims died, says: “We are all concerned about the number of drug related killings in the province because they are mostly, if not all, extra-judicial killings,”.

When he found out about the 32 deaths, Duterte is said to have commented: “That’s beautiful. If we can only kill 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

Oliveros can only guess at the reason for the deaths. “We do not know the motivation of the police, why they had to do the killings in one day … maybe to impress the president, who wanted more,” he says.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, who is Vice President of the Philippines Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has been comparing Duterte’s human rights abuses and authoritarianism with those of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 80s.

“During Marcos’s time, ‘communist’ was used as a ‘label and justification’ for abductions and killings,” David says.

“Now, it’s ‘drug suspects.’ I don’t know of any law in any civilized society that says a person deserves to die because he or she is a ‘drug suspect’.”

David is warning his fellow Filipinos who agree with Duterte’s approach that their turn could be next.

“You might be surprised to find your name in the list one of these days,” he says. “Anyone can be listed as a ‘drug suspect’.”

“A victim’s mother told me they know they are ‘unworthy’ people, and that no one would stand up for them,” he adds.

“It is as if we have accepted the narrative that people who use drugs deserve to die.”

The Catholic Church in the Philippines also opposes suggestions that Duterte’s party could legalise divorce (the Philippines is presently the only state in the world with no divorce law, other than the Vatican) and same-sex unions.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,