Priest calls on leaders to stop extrajudicial killings
A Quezon City-based priest on Friday called on those in power to put an end to deaths due to the government’s aggressive war on drugs as he reflected on one of Jesus Christ’s final words.
Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario, dean of studies at the St. Vincent School of Theology in Quezon City, expounded on Jesus Christ’s first word, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“It is hard to forgive. But forgiveness is at the center of our Christianity. If we don’t know how to forgive, then we might as well stop calling ourselves Christians,” he said during the Siete Palabras 2017 at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu City.
While Christ may have set an example when he chose to forgive those who mocked him at the cross, Pilario said real forgiveness in present-day context starts with justice and fairness.
He said it is a long process and that it can only be possible in a society that respects the rights and dignity of its people ad well as allows its children to become responsible and caring individuals.
Pilario, whose parish is in Payatas, has had the opportunity to meet widows and children of those believed to have been drug users or pushers gunned down by police forces amid the current administration’s drive against illegal drugs.
“In the name of God, stop the killings,” he said.
As of April 10 this year, there have been over 7,000 deaths linked to the government’s war on drugs, both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings.
At present, he said 30 of their parish members have become “victims” of the bloody war, the latest of whom died only last Holy Tuesday, when the priest was preparing for his trip to Cebu.
Pilario said widows are left to raise the children that were left behind while the young ones are left with the lifelong scars of having seen their fathers killed right in front of them.
“‘Juan’ had gone home to seven of his children in Payatas. He made one of them spaghetti. All of a sudden, police barged into his home, a shanty by the dumpsite, made the children go out, and shot Juan,” Pilario recalled having been told by the children’s 75-year-old grandmother, ‘Remy.’
The police did not get Juan earlier so they took his wie instead, Pilario recounted.
He said that if these killings continue as justification to clearing the country of illegal drugs, the children of those who were killed may be in danger of becoming murderers themselves.
“If these killings do not end, what kind of society do we have? … Until then, we have a society that kills. And if this continues to happen as it is happening now, may God have mercy on us,” said Pilario.
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