akbayan2014Akbayan welcomes the CBCP pastoral letter against extra judicial killings. This is a necessary development that should help remind the public that killing is not a solution to the country's problems. Complimented by an initiative of several priests to concelebrate a mass in support of families of victims of extra-judicial killings, this stance reinvigorate our efforts to temper the madness and violence driving the government’s campaign against drugs.

Akbayan, in July of 2016 has said, in consonance with the church’s position, that this campaign is nothing more than a war on the poor. This is not a war on drugs – a war connotes that the opponent has the organized ability to engage the government in combat. But no, there are only 7,000 poor people lying dead on the streets. That is not a war – that is a massacre.

And yet big time suspects like Peter Lim score a meeting with the President, and is able to fly out of the country undetected. Corrupt cops reported to have used the drug campaign as a pretext to extort money from businessmen are penalized with push-ups. An entire ethnic minority – Moros, are insulted with deployment of erring cops to Mindanao. Clearly, this so called “war on drugs” divides Filipinos into two caps – those who can curry favour with justice, and those who cannot.

The mass concelebrated in Caloocan, where extra judicial killings have far outpaced the capacity of media to report them, should encourage us to seriously reflect on the cost we are willing to accept for a false sense of security.

The CBCP's stance on EJKs should help the public reclaim a democratic space to reflect on the human and long-term cost of this violence. With the church speaking out and exercising its moral suasion, may we inspire communities and families to speak out, so the public can gain an insight into the very real stories behind the numbers.

Knowing the victims is the first step towards justice, and healing. We call on the CBCP to also extend support to victims of EJKs and the witnesses who may be willing to step forward to bring perpetrators to justice. Akbayan intends to support the church in this particular effort all the way.

Machris Cabreros
President, Akbayan