Reflect, pray, act – Cardinal Tagle on drug-related killings

By Reynard Magtoto

Taking the lesson of killings during his visit in El Salvador, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle invites the people to reflect, pray and act since the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive.

Cardinal Tagle participated in the meeting of Caritas Latin America held in El Salvador. Many people had been killed in El Salvador’s civil war and still contends with armed groups.

While in El Salvador, Cardinal Tagle heard news of the increase of killings in Philippines due to an intensified war against illegal drugs.

The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue according to Cardinal Tagle. “It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us,” he said.

“We cannot disregard each other. Let us invite families, national government agencies, local government units, people’s organizations, schools, faith-based communities, the medical profession, the police and military, recovering addicts etc. to come together, listen to each other and chart a common path,” Cardinal Tagle stated.

“To understand the situation better, we need not only statistics but also human stories. Families with members who have been destroyed by illegal drugs must tell their stories. Families with members who have been killed in the drug-war, especially the innocent ones, must be allowed to tell their stories. Drug addicts who have recovered must tell their stories of hope. Let their stories be told, let their human faces be revealed,” added Cardinal Tagle.

Offering prayers at all masses for the repose of those who have died in the drug war, Cardinal Tagle knocks on the consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity.

“We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives,” he said.

Cardinal Tagle enjoins parishes and vicariates to commit again to the parish-based drug rehabilitation program of the Archdiocese of Manila called Sanlakbay in partnership with the local government and police. He also asks the Basic Ecclesial Communities and other organizations of the lay faithful to care for neighborhoods in coordination with their partners.

According to Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, President Rodrigo Duterte cannot feign ignorance nor concern in the series of events that led to the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, and other victims of his drug war. He has the obligation to put these police-murderers behind bars, but he should also account for his own responsibility in the said crime.

Palabay underscored that State security forces continue these violations because of existing State policies that enable them to do so. She added that “this renders human rights offices in the military and the police useless. It won’t matter how many human rights orientation you give these rights violators, it is in the framework of their institution.”

Meanwhile, Karapatan called for international organizations and other States to put a halt on foreign funds channeled to State security forces in the Philippines, including those meant for so-called security sector reform such as providing human rights orientation and training to these “instruments of fascism who have no respect or any intent to uphold human rights.”

The group added that “the military and the police do not need human rights trainings which goes out the right ear after they hear it in the left; These institutions need an entire overhaul.” (

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