TODAY starts the Prayer and Life Workshop (PLW) at the Metro Bacolod District Jail (MBDJ). Bacolod is continuing the tradition of the first 15-week Cycle of the Workshops held in jails, hospitals, schools that culminated in that Desert Day in Batangas on September 6, 1998.

I have been called to serve as their as their prayer guide. Last week, 21 inmates signed up, 20 Catholics and a non-Catholic Christian. In PLW, participants learn to internalize radical love of loving the unloveable, those of whom were convicted or accused of committing crimes. Didn’t Jesus Christ said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

The MBDJ inmates are after all our brothers who have gone afoul with the law but want to return back as the prodigal sons back to the Father. The message is repentance and reconciliation.

But now we’re hearing a different noise from our government. No less than Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II who insists that drug lords, drug pushers are not humans. “In other words, how can it be when your war is only against these drug lords, drug pushers? Do you consider them humanity? No, believe me,” he argued.

He echoed the call of President Duterte who has repeatedly urged police to kill drug users as well as traffickers. “Crime against humanity? In the first place, I’d like to be frank with you: Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?” Duterte said last year, referring to drug offenders.

This description reminds me of the Nazi jargon “Lebensunwertes Leben” (life unworthy of life). It was a Nazi designation for the segments of the populace which, according to the Nazi regime, had no right to live.

This was in response to the Amnesty International report that police killings of thousands of drug suspects in Duterte’s war on drugs may be crimes against humanity.

No, every life is worth of life. All must have a chance to repent and change.