A CATHOLIC bishop expressed fear Wednesday that more young people would be killed if the government won’t change its hardline approach to the problem of illegal drugs.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the government’s anti-drug war was naïve, seriously flawed, and needs serious evaluation and rethinking.
He said the killings of 19-year-old Carlo Angelo Arnaiz and 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos were not isolated cases as the police claimed.
“If they don’t stop the killing, we’ll have more Kians and Carlos,” said David, who is also the incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Police said Arnaiz robbed a taxi driver in the city before engaging them in a shootout.
However, an autopsy revealed that Arnaiz was tortured and handcuffed before he was shot to death.
“The case of Carl Angelo Arnaiz was murder, plain and simple except that it was committed by our law enforcers. That gives a chilling effect,” David said.
Arnaiz’s body was found by his parents at a funeral home in Caloocan City on Aug. 28, 10 days after he had gone missing.
The bishop is calling for an investigation into the thousands of other drug-related deaths, and said the drug war has created a climate of impunity.
He lauded the current efforts to probe the killings but said is hoping “they do it not just for Carl and Kian but for countless other victims of this brutal drug war.”
“The true criminals remain at large, flooding the country with tons of illegal drugs because corruption in government agencies remains unchecked,” David added.
President Rodrigo Duterte insisted Wednesday that he never ordered policemen to kill children in the name of his bloody drug war, as he vowed to pursue cases against cops involved in the killing of 19-year-old Arnaiz.
In his speech, Duterte vowed that he will not condone scalawag cops but insisted that police operations should be presumed to be undertaken with regularity.
“I never ordered the killings of children or adults and even the enemy on bended knees. That is not the norm or rule of a democracy,” Duterte said in his speech during the 60th Anniversary of the Social Security System.
“I would never, never condone or allow it,” he added.
The President said that while he would protect soldiers and policemen, “there should always be the element of performance of duty and you do not kill defenseless persons.”
“I’m sorry, but I will pursue the case against policemen and if need be, they will go to jail,” Duterte added.
Despite the intense criticism, Duterte said his anti-drug war would protect children.
“I have [made] mistakes, faults many—EJK [extrajudicial killings], of course we do not like it. But if I do not control drugs, I will put the next generation in jeopardy,” Duterte said.
Earlier in the day, Duterte met with Arnaiz is parents at Malacañang Park and assured them justice would be done.
The President, who arrived past 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, talked with the parents and sister of Carl Angelo for about 20 minutes.
Also present in the meeting were Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go.
Malacañang has guaranteed a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Arnaiz.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella assured the public that there will be no whitewash and that those found responsible would be made accountable.
Also on Thursday, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros lashed out at Duterte for calling here bobo (stupid), saying she may not be a genius, but she knows that while two deaths do not make a policy, thousands of dead, without remorse, regret or action from the government, do.
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