Palma concerned about rising death toll
CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma has expressed concern over the rising death toll from the administration’s war against prohibited drugs.
In an interview, he said killing suspected criminals is not the right antidote to the country’s problem on illegal drugs and crimes.
“We begin to be concerned and afraid knowing that so many (people) have died,” he told reporters after he ordained a priest and five new deacons at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday.
“While we support the campaign against drugs, it should be done within the ambit of the law. We feel that anything extrajudicial is not the best way to answer our problems,” he added.
The 66-year-old prelate also denounced plans to revive the death penalty for high-level drug traffickers, saying the sanctity of life must be preserved at all times and in whatever circumstances.
“The question on death penalty has always been debated. Some debate for it, while others debate against it. But on the part of church, we call on government to address crimes through other means instead of killing criminals,” he explained.
In a visit at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) last week, Senator Vicente Sotto III announced plans to bring back the death penalty for “high-level drug traffickers.”
In 2014, Sotto sought the revival of the death penalty law through lethal injection when he authored Senate Bill No. 2080, which proposed to repeal Republic Act No. 9346 or “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.”
Sotto said there was a need to revive the death penalty for high-level drug traffickers to frighten violators and to prevent them from operating in the country.
The senator expected human rights groups and the Catholic Church in the country to oppose the plan but was hoping that if the death penalty will be only for high-level drug traffickers, there’s a chance that the death penalty may be revived.
But the Catholic Church has always been consistent in their stance against death penalty.
Based on the records of the PRO-7, a total of 146 drug suspects were killed in an alleged shootout with policemen in the region from July 1 to December 2.
At least 205 other drug suspects were gunned down by still unknown assailants.
These cases were docketed as “Death Under Investigation” by the police.
Last Saturday, a seven-year-old boy died after he was hit a stray bullet from the gun of a still unidentified man who reportedly chased a 17-year-old boy believed to be involved in illegal drugs in Barangay Cansaga, Consolacion town, Cebu.
The victim’s father, Wilson Batucan, believed the bullet that killed his son, San Niño, was fired from a gun owned by a policeman.
Senior Insp. William Homoc, Consolacion Police Station chief, denied the accusations, saying they did not conduct any operation when San Niño was killed.
Palma said the incident just proved that extrajudicial killings lead to more problems.
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