10 February 2017, The Tablet

Bishops step up criticism of Duterte ‘reign of terror’

The Catholic bishops in the Philippines have attacked  President Duterte’s war on drugs, calling it a “reign of terror in many places of the poor”, in a pastoral letter read out in churches last weekend, writes Ellen Teague.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that while illegal drug trafficking needs to be stopped, “the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and dealers” and it was disturbing that many people did not care about the bloodshed, or even approved of it. The bishops’ letter did not mention the president by name, in what was their first collective statement opposing Duterte’s campaign.

Since he came to power in June 2016, more than 7,500 people have been killed following the launch of his anti-drugs campaign. Both the government and the police have denied that extrajudicial killings have taken place.

The pastoral letter came less than a week after Duterte suspended all police operations in the drugs crackdown, due to what he said was extensive corruption in the police force.

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