WE express our full support for the government’s serious crusade against the problem of illegal drugs in our country. We admire the leadership that President Rodrigo Duterte has taken in this campaign and the determination of the people under him in working to rid our society of such menace.

Nevertheless, we are alarmed at the continued extrajudicial killings, which seem to go unchecked, without trial or investigation.

We are alarmed at the silence of the government, groups, and majority of the people in the face of these killings. Ubi boni tacent malum prosperat. Evil prospers where good men are silent.

As religious and consecrated persons, we believe that the wheels of justice should take their course following the proper procedure and operate within the bounds of the law.

We demand that the concerned government agencies continue apprehending those involved in drug trafficking but avoiding extrajudicial killings, and pursue and apprehend vigilantes who carry out such illegal actions.

As men and women of consecrated life, we commit ourselves to the following:

1. For our communities, parishes, apostolates and educational institutions to study, reflect on and act on these unabated killings.

2. To care for the violated, the orphaned and the widowed through counseling, sharing and integration with Gospel values.

3. To stand with people of other faiths and other beliefs in the inviolability and sacredness of life. In the Year of Mercy, let our humanity and compassion reach those who are the least and the powerless.

4. To recognize that the drug problem is a complex and deeply-emotional issue that needs to be addressed holistically, with great understanding and compassion for both victim and perpetrator for we are all dehumanized by this culture of death.

5. To recognize and support the need for reforms in the criminal justice system and the need for rehabilitation for drug dependents. We need to weed out the corrupt in our security forces as well as in the prosecution service as well as the judiciary. The drug menace is an intricate web of corruption and patronage that feeds on the insatiable desire of people for profit.

6. To hold Masses and prayer vigils for peace and justice in the affected communities.

7. For the bells to toll at a designated hour in solidarity with the poor and in upholding the sacredness of life.

Pope Francis has repeatedly urged the leaders of the Church to go to the frontiers: “A Church which ‘goes forth’ is a Church whose doors are open.” Through this pastoral statement, we heed the Pope’s word and move to the peripheries.--Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), through Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM and Sr. Regina Kuizon, RGS, co-chairpersons

Democracy

President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent actions re: the “separation” of the Philippines from the United States of America while allying closely with China and even Russia have alarmed everybody in the country. This issue, together with the peace talks, the strengthening of the police force and the unending extra-judicial killings have led to speculations that democracy is slowly dying in the country and is being usurped by communism and dictatorship.

But is Philippine democracy really dying? In a nutshell “demos cratos” had its roots in the polis of Athens. Democracy in its purest form only manifests itself once native Athenian men gather in the Agora to perform a ceremony called ostracism or the banishing of a person for about 10 years through voting.

Philosophers like Plato then altered the perception of democracy using the concept he wrote wherein he stated that “the country ought to have a form of government that makes people happy.”

Ancient Rome polished it further with the birth of the republic wherein a leader represents the whole place. In the USA, it further evolved with the help of Abraham Lincoln, who said that democracy is “for the people, by the people and of the people.”

Now democracy has evolved together with the Philippines. Democracy has become a need of the people. But as what Spiderman was told, “with great power comes greater responsibilities.”

Yet Filipinos being a lover of freedom sometimes abuse democracy. They use it to alter what is supposed to be the truth to gain the upperhand, not knowing that it could destroy others. What’s worse is that with the use of technology it got more complicated.

Hearsay or gossip posted on the web is not news. But because of the belief that we are free to do anything we continue doing it.--from Rey Colin F. Anticamara