THE four Catholic dioceses in Negros Island Region condemned the increasing number of extrajudicial killings in the wake of the national government-led campaign against illegal drugs.
Bishop Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, and Diocesan Administrator Rolando Nueva of Kabankalan, in a joint pastoral statement Thursday, said they are “deeply saddened and greatly disturbed” by what is happening in the country today.
The church leaders pointed out that there was “inadequate action” on the part of the government to investigate the extrajudicial killings and bring their perpetrators to justice.
They also noted the “incendiary statements of the administration which tend to encourage the killing of drug addicts.”
They were also dismayed with “the seeming apathy and indifference of the general public in the face of these extrajudicial killings.”
“We are deeply concerned that this alarming insensitivity could lead to a deadening of conscience and the dawning of a culture of death,” they said.
While they “commend the government for its political will and determination in addressing the terrible drug menace that has long plagued the country, they strongly urge that this should be done within the bounds of law and with full respect for human rights” as they “believe that man is created in God’s image and redeemed by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, hence, human life is sacred.”
“As pastors of our flock we commit ourselves and our dioceses to pray constant that our country may be effectively rid of drug menace, but in the manner that is just and lawful,” the church leaders said.
They also committed to intensify their work of evangelization and offer their cooperation and collaboration with the government in drug prevention and rehabilitation.
Hours after the joint pastoral statement was released, the Diocese of Bacolod led by Buzon held a prayer rally dubbed “Santo Rosario Para sa Pagbag-o,” in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral at around 6 p.m. It was attended by about 300 people.
Buzon said in an interview that the prayer rally was held to ask
for the conversion of sinners.
“It’s very appropriate time to pray for the country,” he added.
“We can’t control what’s happening. But what’s alarming is that there’s seemed to be apathy and indifference (from the public), it’s very disturbing because we have been desensitize. Our worry is that we’re losing our conscience and that is very scary. There’s an impression that people gloat over the rising number of killings,” the bishop said.
“It’s so unchristian, we lose our conscience and very humanity,” he added. “Our condemnation of extrajudicial killings is clear and strong. The picture that we painted is the national picture.”
Buzon said he is happy that there are no cases of extrajudicial killings in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
“I commend our police here for their effort to really abide by the law and do their duty well and properly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Buzon said the Diocese of Bacolod had been helping with the drug rehabilitation efforts of the provincial government through spiritual formation.