Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte is worried that the Catholic Church might be misused by alleged drug lords, pushers, users, and policemen involved in alleged extra-judicial killings who want sanctuaries for the purpose of destroying the government’s campaign against illegal drug trade, a spokesman said.
“We urge (the Catholic Church) a certain objectivity to avoid being used by said aberrations,” said Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
The Catholic Church should “exercise due diligence as there are drug protectors, kidnappers, and rogue cops who want to destroy the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs,” said Abella.
Earlier, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said there were policemen who approached the Church and expressed willingness to speak about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected drug lords, pushers, and users.
“Their consciences are troubling them,” said Villegas.
The Church will look into the “sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories,” before granting them and their families’ accommodation, protection, and shelter.
“If such law-enforcers wish to testify, then the Catholic Church will see to it that they are in no way induced to speak, to disclose nor to make allegations by any member of the clergy or the hierarchy,” explained Villegas.
The cops who will be seeking sanctuary must issue statements about their activities. They will also be provided legal counsels, said Villegas.
International and local rights groups have accused police abuse in Duterte’s campaign against illegal drug trade, adding that 13,000 have been killed since 2016. But the police said only 3.800 drug suspects were slain in legitimate anti-narcotic operations since 2016.