Catholic Church says drug war behind ‘reign of terror’ on poor

Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 Philippine presidential election on May 9 promising to kill tens of thousands of criminals, and urging people to kill drug addicts.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says nearly 40 percent of the police force engage in illegal activities

The church made this known in sermons read at mass across the country this weekend, three church sources said on Saturday.

As Mayor of Davao City, Duterte was criticised by groups like Human Rights Watch for the extrajudicial killings of hundreds of street children, petty criminals and drug users carried out by the Davao Death Squad.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in its most strongly worded comments so far on the crackdown on drug pushers and users, said that killing people is not the answer to trafficking of illegal drugs.

The church, however, voiced its concern about the indifference of many to the bloodshed.

“An additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor.

“Many are killed not because of drugs, while those that kill them are not brought to account,’’ they said in a pastoral letter.

More than 7,600 people have been killed since Duterte launched his anti-drugs campaign seven months ago, over 2,500 in what police say were shootouts during raids and sting operations.

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