The Bishops of the Philippines offered a pastoral message to resist with courage, stand up for God and bear witness to truth amid the prevailing culture of murder and plunder.
The archbishops of Nueva Segovia, Lingayen Dagupan and Tuguegarao, said that "this is not the time for despair but courage. This is not the time to be quiet but to stand up for God. Against the tide of murders and plunder, let us bear witness to truth and life."
The archbishops from the Metropolitan of Northern Luzon released a "joint pastoral message on the culture of murder and plunder" on September 12.
The prelates describing the present social condition in the Philippines noted that "it is like living in the valley of death—killing of drug users and opponents; helpless death in the pandemic, death by governance without vision, death by shameless corruption that seems to break all records. Killings! Murders! Deaths!"
The joint statement is signed by Archbishops Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia, Socrates Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan and Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao.
The statement stated that more than thirty thousand Filipinos had been killed in the campaign against illegal drugs for the last five years. "Journalists have been killed, political opponents have been murdered, court judges have been assassinated, priests have been shot and critics have been bullied and threatened."
The church leaders assessing the situation stated that "When will the killings stop? The poor pay for the corruption of the powerful. The nation is sinking in debt."
"Are we facing a dead end and are we helpless? NO. We overcome evil by the power of good. Our help is from the Lord!" the church leaders said.
The prelates called for a time of "penitence and atonement" for national and personal sins. "We can organize penitential rosaries and reparation prayers to the Divine Mercy that the Lord may forgive our murders ... May our penitence lead us to generous and courageous works of mercy and charity in our own personal little ways."
"We citizens must be law-abiding, but we are not pacifists," the statement noted, inviting people to "resist a murderous and corrupt public order guided by the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (#400)."
The church leaders said that "we have a moral duty to resist and correct a culture of murder and plunder as much as the prolonged pattern of hiding or destroying the truth."
The statement quoting the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (#401) guided the people towards a morally acceptable resistance. "Non-violent resistance, such as peaceful assemblies of dissent or sober discussions of social issues guided by the Gospel or rallies for honesty and heroism, is the path we must choose always."
The prelates "commend, bless and encourage a full investigation, by those in authority, of any whiff of corruption." The church leaders "also reproach, rebuke and censure those who obstruct the legal process to arrive at truth and justice."
The archbishops acknowledged that "free elections which allow the selection and change of representatives is the most effective way to make political authority accountable."
The church leaders appealed to the youth and first-time voters to register for voting. "We appeal to the sense of patriotism of the reluctant candidates to bring back ethics in our political life and run according to your conscience, not according to the surveys." - CBCP NEWS