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Letters to the Editor

Rise up for life, condemn killings!

/ 12:02 AM January 14, 2017

Panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. Tears flow from my eyes unceasingly; they will not stop.

(Lamentations 3:47-49)

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Three teenagers were laid to rest last Jan. 10. They were among the seven people massacred on Dec. 28, 2016, in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. In isolation, we lament the senseless violence that has ripped families asunder. We grieve the destruction of life, which had yet to bloom into full adulthood. The mourning of the bereaved calls us to empathy and moves us to compassion, especially as the families of these victims come from the margins—the vulnerable poor whom God has called us to serve.

And still, this is not an isolated case. On Jan. 2, 2017, four more were massacred in the next street of this same area.  We are witnesses to an unfolding travesty of unchecked scope and intensity. We must ask ourselves: “How many more will die, if we remain silent?” As a nation, we must rise above our tendencies to devalue the lives of the poor—we must rise up for life and condemn the onslaught of senseless killings.

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The teenagers who died last Dec. 28 were merely invited guests at a friend’s house.  Like other youth around the country, they were there to enjoy holiday festivities with friends. But for these young people, the consequence was death.

A thinly veiled cloak of a so-called “war on drugs” has once again been invoked to try to convince us that their deaths should not matter. But their lives do matter! The poor are not less human than you and me; their dignity and human worth are ordained by God.

We lay to rest beloved children of God.  Even as the police purport to quickly solve their killings, we must be more circumspect and seek out the truth of what is going on in poor communities. The daily slaughter and devastation of the poor in purportedly drug-related incidents should fill us with grief and pity, much like the Prophet Jeremiah. We must recognize the pitfalls in our midst. Our city is in ruin as the poor are subjected to brutal liquidation.

On several occasions, President Duterte testified that his war on drugs is not for him but for his grandchildren: We urge him to reimagine methods for dismantling drug syndicates. We also want an end to illicit substance abuse in the Philippines. We want the drug lords and drug traders to pay for their crimes against the people and the devastation of the lives of Filipinos.  Still, when the very children of our nation are cut down in the resultant climate of massive killings with impunity, we must appeal for a change in tactics and strategy.

Justice for the victims of the Dec. 28 Bagong Silang Massacre!  Stop the senseless killings!

GILBERT BILLENA, O.Carm., FR. BEN ALFORQUE, MSC, REV. MARIE SOL VILLALON, United Methodist Church, BISHOP REUEL N.O. MARIGZA, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, FR. TEODULO HOLGADO, CSSR, Rise Up for Rights and Life, [email protected]

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TAGS: Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, drugs, Killings, massacre, Rodrigo Duterte
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