PRIEST WARNS OF RISE IN VIOLENCE

Inquirer Libre - Davao - - NEWS -

Catholic priest warned on Saturday of the rise in killings and violence in the country following the collapse of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), and the return of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the anti-illegal drug campaign.

“The spiral of violence is going to escalate especially that the peace process has stopped at saka ibinalik na naman sa—it’s not only PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency]—balik na naman sa (the anti-illegal drug campaign was returned to the) PNP,” Fr. Amado Picardal, outgoing executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Basic Ecclesial Communities, told INQUIRER.net in an interview.

“If that happens, the Church would not be silent,” Picardal added.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed a proclamation labelling the groups as terrorists in accordance with the Human Security Act. Days later, he declared that he would order the arrests of communist leaders released by the government last year for the peace negotiations.

Human rights groups and advocates have denounced the declaration, saying it would only legitimize attacks against dissenters, especially those in legal organizations.

“The proclamation means the Duterte administration’s abandonment of the peace process and the possible resolution of the largely socio-economic and political causes of the almost fivedecades old armed conflict. It’s a total capitulation to the USinspired counter-insurgency campaign,” Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

“It also means that darker days are ahead considering that human rights is already taking a solid hit from the fascist campaigns of the government,” he added.

Human rights group Karapatan has reported series of killings across the country following the President’s proclamation, including those of Nueva Ecija priest Fr. Marcelito Paez, Oriental Mindoro pastor Lovelito Quinones, and eight Lumad farmers in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

Duterte has also announced the return of the PNP to the antiillegal drug crackdown to back the PDEA, more than a month after he entrusted the undermanned antinarcotics agency to lead solely his controversial campaign.

AP FILE PHOTO

Fr. Amado Picardal

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