Philippine Catholic Church Slams Duterte’s War on Drugs

Philippine Catholic Church Slams Duterte’s War on Drugs
Philippine Catholic Church Slams Duterte’s War on Drugs

The Philippines’ Catholic Church assailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs for creating a “reign of terror” among the poor, in sermons read out at Saturday services, which will be repeated to congregations across the country on Sunday.

In its most strongly worded attack on the crackdown on drug pushers and users, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said killing people was not the answer to trafficking of illegal drugs, and it was disturbing that many did not care about the bloodshed, or even approved of it, Reuters reported.

“An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong. It is considered as normal and even worse, something that needs to be done,” the bishops said in a pastoral letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

“An additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor. Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account.”

More than 7,600 people have been killed since Duterte launched his anti-drugs campaign seven months ago, more than 2,500 in what police say were shootouts during raids and sting operations.

Both the government and police have strenuously denied that extrajudicial killings have taken place. The president’s office had no immediate comment on the bishops’ letter.

Nearly 80% of the Philippines’ 100 million people are Catholic and, unlike in many other countries where the faith has waned, the majority still practice with enthusiasm. While that support has historically given the church significant political and social clout, it has been hesitant to criticize the blunt-spoken president’s war on drugs.

The Philippine government derided Catholic bishops on Sunday as “out of touch” after they used weekend sermons to attack the war on drugs.

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