CBCP: Probe high-ranking officials linked to drugs
MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday evening, November 22, urged a thorough investigation into high-ranking officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
"We are very disturbed by the possibility that high-ranking officials could have been involved in the drug trade," CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
"The investigation must be thoroughgoing and must spare none," Villegas added in the statement, which was posted on the CBCP's social media accounts late Tuesday evening.
The archbishop did not name the high-ranking officials implicated in the drug trade.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has a list of 1,000 drug personalities including government officials and policemen.
Duterte also linked his fiercest critic, Senator Leila de Lima, in the illegal drug trade. De Lima's former aide and boyfriend, Ronnie Dayan, on Tuesday said he received money from an alleged drug lord on De Lima's behalf.
The CBCP issued Tuesday's appeal as part of its first litany of concerns about the Duterte administration.
This letter, titled "Our Country and Our Faith," also tackled issues such as poverty, labor, the death penalty, and same-sex unions.
CBCP stresses right to life
In this letter, the bishops also questioned the killings of drug suspects who allegedly resist arrest.
Data from the police show that at least 1,896 drug suspects have been killed in police operations since July 1, a day after Duterte took office.
At the same time, 3,001 others have been slain in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.
This brings to 4,897 the total number of people killed in Duterte's war on drugs since July 1.
Villegas pointed out that "the daily reports of suspects and detainees shot by law enforcers supposedly because nanlaban sila (they fought back) or nang-agaw ng baril (they tried to snatch firearms) are very disturbing and truly distressing."
He said: "There is no way that a government can credibly claim that it is waging a relentless war on drugs to preserve life – while in the process abetting, encouraging or fomenting the destruction of life thought – wrongly – to be unworthy!"
Villegas then praised the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) "for its vigilance." He also said warnings of international human rights watchdogs "ought to be heeded by any conscientious government."
Duterte has blasted both the CHR and international human rights watchdogs for questioning his war on drugs.
Villegas, however, said on Tuesday: "There can be no opposition between the campaign against drugs and the campaign for human rights. In fact, any opposition renders one or the other meaningless and fruitless."
He added: "We seek the elimination of the drug trade and an end to the proliferation of habituating substances because they constitute a real threat to well-being. But we cannot be consistent in this resolve by denying some the right to their own well-being, fundamental to which is the right to life!" – Rappler.com