Vigilantes in the Philippines are tearing the country apart by killing suspected drug dealers at whim. The Church has spoken out against these killings, which show no signs of stopping. The killings are a response to that country’s president calling for mass vigilantism against drug dealers.
President Rodrigo Duarte has declared war on drugs in the Philippines. Part of that war includes a call for citizens to kill suspected drug dealers and traffickers on sight.
Vigilantism has no place in a democratic state where due process is considered a natural right.
It is true that the Philippines has a tremendous drug problem. These illegal drugs destroy lives and tear families apart. However, adding extrajudicial killings, turning the public into judges and executioners, does nothing to promote the cause of justice.
The Catholic Church has used its voice to condemn the violence. Fr. Armando Picardal has warned the Bishop’s Conference, which he heads, that President Duarte is at the head of a death squad that has already claimed 1,400 lives.
President Duarte warned the people that his rule would be bloody. He was not joking. With people permitted to kill drug suspects on sight, more than 600 people have died since May.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas asked, “From a generation of drug addicts, shall we become a generation of street murderers? [Does] the do it yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?”
The Church has warned the people not to participate in such evil activity, but it will be up to the government and the police to stop it. There is no reason to believe this will happen soon.
We must pray for the end of violence. We must pray for the coming of justice. And we must do all we can to refrain from committing the sins of drug abuse and violence, lest we become caught in the cycle of evil that threatens the Philippines.