By Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.
Cebu City — Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to usher change in the country is commendable although he continues to have reservations on the President’s war against illegal drugs.
“We can say government officials and employees are there in order to serve the community. The effort, in itself, is commendable. On the other hand, some other people are worried on the approach of the government’s drug war,” Palma told reporters.
In his own assessment of the performance of Duterte, who is about to mark his first six months in office, Palma recognized the government’s efforts to usher change in the country. He also noted the noticeable improvements in government services and the performance of its employees.
But Palma said the approach in eliminating illegal drugs remains questionable.
“We all agree that we need to fight out illegal drugs and the drug cartel… but again, we repeat the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and majority of the people who ask, is this the best way to answer the problem of drugs?” said Palma.
In a pastoral letter, the CBCP earlier commended law enforcers for strictly enforcing the law. However, the increasing body count of slain suspected drug personalities, including the apparent emergence of vigilantism, has disturbed Church officials as well.
Based on a December 23 update from the Philippine National Police (PNP), there have been over 6,187 deaths linked to the war on drugs, both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings.
In Central Visayas, the report from the Central Visayas police showed that 149 individuals died in anti-drug police operations from July 1 to December 8, while 217 were killed by still unknown assailants.