MANILA Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called for church bells to toll for five minutes at 8 p.m. every day starting Sept. 14 in the Archdiocese of Manila as he issued his strongest statement against the growing death toll in the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“The tolling of church bells in the evening to pray for the dead is an old Filipino custom that has almost disappeared. Now is the right time to revive it,” the cardinal said.
“We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing,” Tagle said in his letter Friday.
He also urged Catholics to show solidarity with those who have been killed, and to extend empathy and spiritual support to their families.
“If there are cases of killings in your parish community, I ask our pastors and lay leaders to take time to go to the wake in order to bless the departed and to be one with the grieving families in sorrow and in hope,” the cardinal said.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, and San Jose, Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari had also called for the ringing of church bells amid the widespread killings.
Militant farmers, meanwhile, led a Black Friday protest in Mendiola to bring to Malacañang’s doorstep the strong public call to stop the daily killings.
“Duterte is walking on blood with the unspeakable number of Filipinos killed in the name of the government’s war against drugs,” said Antonio Flores, secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in a statement.
“The situation has gone worse and we see no letup with the killings. The crazed and deranged killings have got to stop. Bodies are piling up. The bloodthirsty killers protected by the state must be quelled. The lethal combination of PNP’s Operation Double Barrel and AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan have killed thousands,” Flores said.
As of September, 82 farmers and activists were killed by suspected military elements while tens of thousands drug suspects were reportedly killed by police and gun-for-hire.
“What kind of government would allow the mass slaughter of its people, the brutal killing of minors and children? We are sickened with the Duterte government’s all-out war against the people,” said Flores.
A day after the body of a 14-year-old boy missing for days was found in a creek in Nueva Ecija with 30 stab wounds, Senator Grace Poe asked the Senate to look into the rash of killings of minors in the country as she condemned the recent “gruesome deaths” of three teenagers allegedly linked to the government’s bloody drug war.
In Senate Resolution No. 498, Poe urged the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs to investigate the deaths of minors and other youth that she said had resulted from the government’s war on drugs in either police operations or vigilante-style killings.
She said the Senate should also reevaluate police procedure and guidelines and the rules of enagement of the Philippine National Police in arresting children in possible conflict with the law. She said the Senate should ensure that the operational protocols of law enforcement agencies are observed.
“Before we plummet into chaos and utter savagery, the recent brutal deaths of Kian, Carl, and Reynaldo, and of the other youth victims who came before them, should serve as a wake-up call and a reminder that we are a country of laws and morals,” said Poe.
The senator was referring to 17-year-old Kian Loyd Santos, who was killed in a drug operation last Aug. 16 in Caloocan City; 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who was reportedly gunned down after he held up a taxi driver, also Caloocan City on Aug. 18, and his companion, 14-year-old, Reynaldo de Guzman, who was found dead on Sept. 6.
Autopsies conducted on the bodies of Delos Santos and Arnaiz contradicted police claims that they put up a fight and indicate that they were executed.
Another boy, 17-year-old Vaughn Carl Dicang, was found dead in Baguio City on Thursday, six days after he went missing. However, Dicang’s family believes the death was a robbery and not related to drug war.
Poe said among those who died in the drug war were minors and other youths whose gruesome deaths were dismissed as “isolated incidents” by law enforcement officials, when in fact these incidents, no matter how few and rare, should be considered heinous crimes.
The killings have sparked widespread condemnation of the government’s war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of thousands since its inception in July last year.
The Communist Party of the Philippines on Friday called on its cadres to fight President Duterte’s “repressive tyrannical rule” with the successive killings of minors believed connected with the government’s war against drugs as well as its martial law in Mindanao and counter-insurgency program.
In a Sept. 7 editorial of its official publication, “Ang Bayan,” the CPP’s Central Committee blasted Duterte’s “repetitious, scornful and self-conceited” pronouncements which does not translate into actual measures.
“The people indict Duterte for the thousands upon thousands of lives snuffed by the three wars he has launched: the Oplan Tokhang war against drugs, the Oplan Kapayapaan war of suppression and martial law in Mindanao and the anti-Moro war and destruction of Marawi,” the communist rebels said.
The CPP also cored Duterte for the killing of many thousands in his war against drugs and insurgent forces and the martial law he declared in Mindanao.
“The people detest Duterte for repeatedly ensuring protection and giving incentives to police and soldiers for blindly following his kill orders,” the CPP said.
The group urged the formation of broad alliances to isolate and resist the Duterte government.
Also on Friday, the Palace urged the left-leaning Makabayan bloc to stay in the majority, but wished them well if they decide to leave the administration alliance.
The Makabayan bloc, composed of left-leaning lawmakers at the lower chamber, appears to be rethinking its alliance with the Duterte administration.
Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, a member of Makabayan bloc, revealed that the bloc was considering ending its alliance with the Duterte administration following its “anti-people, pro-imperialist, and fascist policies and actions.”
The move comes after the Commission on Appointments rejected the appointments of leftist members of the Duterte Cabinet, Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano, as secretaries of Social Welfare and Agrarian Reform, respectively.
Also on Friday, an alliance of children’s organizations urged the public to voice strong opposition over the spate of killings of children and youth in the government’s war on illegal drugs.
“The spate of killings is disquieting! Too many lives, both young and old, have perished in the brutal manner from the very hands of state forces who are supposedly bound to protect and serve the public. We should not allow this bloody policy to go on further,” secretary-general Eule Rico Bonganay of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns said.