Philippine Daily Inquirer

July 24, 2016

Thou shall not kill.

The Sixth Commandment is the message for President Duterte that will emanate from a Mass which the Archdiocese of Manila will hold Monday afternoon as he delivers his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) to Congress.

The Mass will mark the launching of the “Huwag Kang Papatay” (Thou Shall Not Kill) campaign, which aims to bring together the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings that have come with the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.

Those people—drug users, pushers and dealers—can no longer change their ways because they are already dead, according to an official of the Archdiocese of Manila.

“We believe, especially in the Year of Mercy, that we have a chance of showing our love of God. But because of this (the extrajudicial killings), there’s no more love because there’s no more life who will ask for forgiveness and mercy,” Fr. Atilano Fajardo said over Radio Veritas on Saturday.

Fajardo is the director of the Manila archdiocese’s Public Affairs Ministry, which will hold the Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church on San Marcelino Street in Ermita district.

The Mass, which will start at 5 p.m., includes prayers for the victims of the extrajudicial killings and police operations and their families.

Churchgoers have been asked to wear black and bring candles for a program that will start at 4:30 p.m., by which time President Duterte will have begun to address Congress.

Since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30, more than 300 suspected drug users, pushers and dealers have been killed by police or vigilantes across the Philippines.

More than 10,000 drug dependents have turned themselves in to police out of fear for their lives.

During the campaign for the May 9 presidential election, Mr. Duterte promised to stamp out illegal drugs and wipe out crime within the first six months of his presidency.

Mr. Duterte, who has been linked to vigilante killings in Davao City, where he served as mayor for 23 years, gave the police the go-signal for a merciless campaign against drugs even before he took office.

Catholic Church officials have slammed the “lack of moral outcry” among the public over the killing of drug suspects.

Robbed of their rights

Fajardo said the killings were equivalent to robbing the suspects of their right to due process and a chance to change their lives.

“We will pray for the souls of our slain brothers. We invite the families of those slain to attend,” Fajardo said.

He said he would make a personal appeal to Mr. Duterte concerning the extrajudicial killings.

Masses will be held at St. Vincent de Paul Church every last Monday of the month as part of the campaign against extrajudicial killings, Fajardo said.

Campaigners will wear black shirts marked “Huwag kang Papatay” and posters will be put up in schools, churches and public vehicles to drum up support for the campaign

“There will be talks and forums on the Sixth Commandment and how [extrajudicial killings are] becoming the new normal. We are consolidating all [opponents] of extrajudicial killings,” Fajardo said.

“We denounce the extrajudicial killings happening in the country, done by men in uniform, by vigilantes and other groups … under the baton of the maestro. We uphold due process of law and the dignity of human life,” he said.

The latest to fall in the government’s narcotics campaign was a suspected drug lord, Chinese national Meco Tan, who was killed by police in Valenzuela City early on Friday.

Mr. Duterte has said some local officials, including governors and mayors, are among the protectors of drug syndicates, although he has not named them.

On Saturday, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad urged Mr. Duterte to name those local officials in his address to Congress on Monday.

“I want to hear in the [State of the Nation Address] the names of those governors and mayors allegedly coddling illegal drug syndicates,” Jumoad said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte has named five high-ranking police officials allegedly protecting drug syndicates.

The five officials—Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz, retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo, retired Chief Supt. Vicente Loot, Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao and Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio—have denied the President’s accusations.

Romblon Bishop Arturo Bastes also issued a statement, saying Mr. Duterte should respect the rule of law in his campaign against drugs.

“I hope he will respect human rights by not introducing the death penalty and by following the rule of law in punishing drug offenders,” Bastes said. TVJ