CBCP to pro­tect cops who talk on drug killings

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Top Stories -

Manila -- Philip­pines po­lice of­fi­cers who want to speak out about “ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings and sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions” in Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte's drug war have been of­fered sanc­tu­ary and le­gal help by the Catholic Church.

Hu­man rights groups ac­cuse Duterte of wag­ing a crime against hu­man­ity as he seeks to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs in so­ci­ety in a crack­down that has claimed thou­sands of lives since he took of­fice in the mid­dle of last year.

The Catholic Church, which counts 80 per­cent of Filipinos as fol­low­ers, has been one of the lead­ing crit­ics of the drug war and its of­fer to po­lice on Mon­day was another step in its ef­forts to stop the killings.

Un­named “law en­forcers” with trou­bled con­sciences have ap­proached the Church over the killings, Arch­bishop Socrates Vil­le­gas, the pres­i­dent of the Catholic Bish­ops' Con­fer­ence of the Philip­pines, said in a pas­toral let­ter.

“They have ex­pressed their de­sire to come out in the open about their par­tic­i­pa­tion in ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings and sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions,” he said with­out nam­ing the of­fi­cers or the vic­tims.

“Within the bounds of Church and civil laws, we ex­press our will­ing­ness to grant them ac­com­mo­da­tion, shel­ter and pro­tec­tion,” he said, adding that the of­fer will also be ex­tended to in­de­pen­dent lawyers.

“If such law-en­forcers wish to tes­tify, then the Catholic Church will see to it that they are in no way in­duced to speak, to dis­close nor to make al­le­ga­tions by any mem­ber of the clergy or the hi­er­ar­chy.”

The Philip­pine po­lice did not re­spond to AFP's re­quests for com­ment.

Duterte's gov­ern­ment has de­nied that killing drug sus­pects was state pol­icy, but crit­ics al­lege his fre­quent pub­lic pro­nounce­ments on the drug war were di­rect in­duce­ments to kill.

Duterte, who re­mains pop­u­lar, has said he was “happy to slaugh­ter” three mil­lion drug ad­dicts and vowed no of­fi­cer would go to jail for im­ple­ment­ing his drug war.

Vil­le­gas last month urged his flock to speak out against the “sys­tem­atic mur­ders and spread­ing reign of ter­ror” that he said were un­leashed by the drug war.

Catholic bish­ops played lead­ing roles in peace­ful street protests that led to the oust­ing of two Philip­pine pres­i­dents, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

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