One year ago, the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, an umbrella group of 106 Catholic Lay Organizations issued a statement on the issue of extrajudicial killings. Since then the matter has worsened with the recent spate of violence in our communities.
Today, we reiterate our call last year to our national and local leaders, both the executive and the police who enforce the law, to observe due process in the discharge of their responsibilities in dealing with criminality in general and the drug problem in particular. We call on them as well to investigate with care, prudence and diligence all recent killings as result of police operations or those committed by vigilante groups.
To some people, these killings have become acceptable since they argue that if these criminals are not eliminated, they will continue to kill our people through drugs. They opined that the next generation of Filipinos faces serious challenges in the future if extreme measures are not undertaken.
But with the increasing reports of unsolved extrajudicial killings, cases of mistaken identity, stories of people killed under questionable circumstances – we may ask the question: How many more lives, whether guilty or innocent be killed before we are convinced that there is something terribly wrong that is happening?
Two concerns come to mind:
1. The increasing culture of violence where our people become desensitized. Killings are not a deterrent to criminals, killings will not help solve our problem of drugs.
2. The matter of lack of due process which may give rise to the nation becoming a police state. While we want to give our police much needed support, abuses are always a reality. We don’t want to give authorities that power to live by the gun in the name of law and order. When law enforcers make mistakes, innocent lives are endangered. We need to observe all constitutional means to the right to life.
Let us awaken our consciences and be open to what the Lord is prodding us to do. What is important is that we all make a move, get out of our comfort zones and be soldiers in God’s army to save our children and the generations that will come after them from the culture of death and violence. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
WE ASK ALL PEACE-LOVING FILIPINOS TO STAND FOR LIFE SO THAT EVIL AND LAWLESSENESS WILL NOT PREVAIL.
For the LAIKO Board of Directors,
ZENAIDA F. CAPISTRANO