A PROMINENT bishop in the Philippines says it is President Rodrigo’s professed concern for human life and not human rights to justify his bloody war on drugs is “illogical”.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David Virgilio made this assertion following the president’s remark on the matter during his third State of the Nation (SONA) address on Monday in which Duterte told critics, “Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.”
“Is not the right to life the most basic human right? Such a statement implies that the victims of drug-related killings are not human lives,” the bishop said in a statement, as quoted by The Inquirer.
“The statement is illogical but not really surprising because it has been stated plainly on several occasions. I wonder if we can find one civilized nation in this world that would agree that addicts are ‘not human’?” he asked.
On Monday, Duterte vowed to sustain the momentum of his bloody war on drugs, telling the nation in an annual address that the fight would be as “relentless and chilling” as during his first two years in power.
According to Reuters, Duterte told a joint session of Congress the anti-narcotics campaign, which has killed thousands of people and attracted international condemnation, was “far from over”, and took a swipe at activists demanding it be stopped.
“The illegal drugs war will not be sidelined, instead it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began,” said Duterte, whose crackdown is now the subject of a preliminary examination by prosecutors of the International Criminal Court.
Since Duterte’s war began, police have killed more than 4,500 people they say were suspected drug pushers who resisted arrest.
Describing addicts as “sick people” who needed to be saved, the Bishop said that the government should shift its focus to combating big-time drug distributors instead.
“How come the supply of illegal drugs remains steady in spite of all the killings? Is it not obvious that addicts and small-time peddlers and pushers are not the root cause of the drug problem?” David asked.
“Neither the Church nor human rights advocates are saying that we should allow illegal drugs to simply proliferate in our country. Of course, we are also concerned about the victims of drug abusers. But the victims of illegal drugs include the drug users themselves!” he also pointed out.
Although the church believes there an anti-drugs campaign was important, the Bishop said there was also a need to defend the victims of the problem.
“Is it not obvious that addicts and small-time peddlers and pushers are not the root cause of the drug problem? Isn’t it obvious that they are also victims, and that they also need to be saved, not killed?” he said.
“The fight against illegal drugs must indeed be relentless, but the killings—either by the police or by masked vigilantes—must be stopped!”