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Church should go beyond hitting killings – Tagle

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says Filipinos seem to ‘accept’ rampant killings – but ‘out of despair,’ not ‘moral conviction’

PROACTIVE APPROACH. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says it is not enough for the Catholic Church to say killing is evil. Photo by Roy Lagarde/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the Catholic Church should go beyond saying it is evil to kill, as he stressed the need to be "proactive" in addressing social ills, such as drug addiction.

"As we say do not kill, let us promote life and save lives," Tagle said Tuesday, July 4, in a press conference on the upcoming Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE).

"Hindi na siguro sapat na sabihin natin, ‘bawal ito,’ ‘masama ito,’ kundi sama-samang kumilos," he added. (It might not be enough for us to say "this is prohibited," "this is wrong," but instead to act together.)

Tagle was responding to a question on how the Catholic Church should approach the mentality that it is "okay to kill" because "the end justifies the means."

Tagle explained that Filipinos seem to "accept" killings – but "out of despair" caused by unsolved social problems, not out of "moral conviction" to oppose Catholic teachings. He mentioned the case of parents who feel helpless, for example, because their children got addicted to illegal drugs.

The cardinal pointed out that Filipinos, on one hand, believe that life is sacred, based on interviews he himself conducted.

If this is so, Tagle asked, then why do they seem to accept the rampant killings in the Philippines?

"Alam ‘nyo, ang sagot nila ay hindi pagsuway sa turo. Alam nila ‘yung turo eh. Parang nagmumula sa, sabihin na nating helplessness, kasi parang papa’no nga ba sosolusyonan? ‘Pag pumunta ka sa ganito, parang walang solusyon. ‘Pag pumunta ka sa ganito, parang walang ginagawa," the cardinal said, referring to social problems such as drug addiction.

(You know, their answer is not about opposing the teachings. They know the teachings. It seems to be coming from a kind of helplessness, because how will you really solve these? If you go here, it seems there’s no solution. If you go there, it seems they’re doing nothing.)

‘Conflict within’

Tagle said this "helplessness" could tempt others to accept killing as a solution.

"At naaawa ako kasi nagkakaroon ng conflict within. A part of them says, sagrado ang buhay, hindi dapat talaga ‘yan sirain. Pero ang isang bahagi sa kanila, parang masyado nang naperwisyo, lalo na kapagka meron kang nakausap na magulang na ang anak nila ay nalulong sa droga, at galit na galit sila sa sinuman ‘yung nagtinda niyan sa kanilang anak. Parang wala silang magawa," he added.

(And I pity them because there comes a conflict within. Part of them says life is sacred, it should not really be destroyed. But part of them also feels they’ve been too disadvantaged, especially if you talk to parents whose child got addicted to drugs, and they’re angry at whoever sold that to their child. It seems they’re helpless.)

Tagle said the PCNE can help address these problems by strengthening hope.

"Kasi kapag pumasok na sa kawalang pag-asa, sabi nga natin, kahit ano na kakapitan eh," the cardinal pointed out.

The cardinal said the PCNE can highlight concrete programs to save lives. The Archdiocese of Manila itself has spearheaded drug rehabilitation programs in partnership with the Philippine government. (READ: Cardinal Tagle slams drug trade, launches rehab)

Widespread killings

The PCNE, a 3-day gathering that aims to rekindle the Catholic faith, is scheduled at the University of Santo Tomas from July 28 to 30. It is expected to draw up to 5,000 people this year.

Started by Tagle in 2013, the PCNE this year comes at a time of widespread killings in the Philippines.

Based on data from the Philippine government, at least 3,200 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed in anti-drug operations since July 1, 2016, when the Duterte administration began its anti-drug campaign.

On top of this figure, the Philippine National Police has recorded at least 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016, to June 20 this year.

Many have tagged a big number of "homicide cases" as extrajudicial killings. (READ: In the PH drug war, it’s likely EJK when…)

‘Killing the soul of our country’

In an earlier interview with Rappler, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo lamented the public’s response to drug-related killings.

Pabillo said many Filipinos have not fully understood the Catholic Church’s teaching that "the end does not justify the means."

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David meanwhile said he doesn’t think people have accepted the killings during Duterte’s first year in office.

In an interview with reporters on Sunday, July 2, David said it is the "culture of fear" that silences people, who become "afraid to speak" for fear of retribution.

On the high approval rating for the drug war, David added: "Hindi solusyon ang pagpatay. Kapag tanggap na natin na ito’y solusyon, parang pinapatay natin ang kaluluwa ng ating bayan mismo."

(Killing is not the solution. Once we’ve accepted that this is a solution, it’s like we’re killing the soul of our country.) –