Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Philippine Church 'Powerless' to Stop Killings

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Philippine Church 'Powerless' to Stop Killings

Article excerpt

MANILA, PHILIPPINES -- Philippine Catholic leaders say they are powerless to stop a growing number of extrajudicial killings that have come with President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

"What I predicted is happening, and the church is powerless to stop the killings," Redemptorist Fr. Amado Picardal, head of the Philippine bishops' Commission on Basic Ecclesial Communities, told He said the killings are "already unstoppable," adding that some church leaders are losing hope.

Picardal, who has linked the president to a death squad allegedly responsible for the killings of more than 1,400 people, warned of "dark prospects" for the Philippines following Duterte's election in May.

During his campaign for the presidency, Duterte vowed to stop criminality, especially the illegal drugs trade, and corruption in the first six months of his term, warning that his administration would be a "bloody" one. reported estimates of more than 600 people killed since Duterte was elected in May; 211 of those were murdered by unidentified gunmen.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops' conference, appealed to Filipinos' sense of humanity amid the killings. He said he was "in utter disbelief," adding that the killings "are too much to swallow."

"There is a little voice of humanity in us that I believe is disturbed by the killings," Villegas said in a statement read in churches in his archdiocese in early August. He said the "voice of disturbed humanity is drowned out by the louder voice of revenge or silenced by the sweet privileges of political clout. …

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