Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has defended the Catholic Church against the administration’s continued attacks that it has meddled in the state affairs when it spoke against extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said the different forms of degradation of human dignity including extrajudicial killings, among others, are not purely secular affairs by which the Church can turn a blind eye to.
“Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s call to the Catholic clergy to stop interfering in State affairs can only come from a regime that is blind to the reality of what the drug killings are doing to the moral fabric of Philippine society,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 450.
“When the government has made the killing of its own people a policy in its so-called ‘war on drugs’, the Catholic Church is put in a position where it has no choice but to demand that the killings are stopped,” she added.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier chided the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Philippines for purportedly meddling on state affairs, and instead should focus on spiritual matters than criticizing Mr. Duterte.
It may be recalled that Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas expressed concern that Mr. Duterte’s verbal attacks against the clergy may put his health at risk and affect his stature as the country’s highest leader.
Critical of government’s abuses and proclivities at corrupting good values, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has always been subjected to Mr. Duterte’s tirades aimed at discrediting it and tainting its public image.
De Lima, the fiercest critic of the government’s all-out war on drugs, underscored that taking the life of any human being is not only against the law of the State, but is also against both natural and divine law.
“When the State itself chooses to violate this law, which is also one of the most basic commandments of all religions, the Church must protest, or it becomes irrelevant as the representative of Christ on earth,” she said.
“‘Thou shall not kill’ is the law of both God and man. The State therefore has no monopoly in assuring that this law is followed, especially when its leadership itself has chosen to violate it with impunity,” she added.
Before accusing the Church and its clergy of falsely interfering with government affairs, the lady Senator from Bicol said Mr. Panelo should realize that fighting for what is right transcends political, social or spiritual barrier.
“When the Church defends the right to life and the right to human dignity, especially of the poor, against a government that treats them as less than human, it is not interference in State affairs. It is protecting the people from the tyranny of its leaders who have already become the very embodiment of evil in this country,” she said. De Lima has always reminded the Filipino public to stand up for what is right regardless of their affiliations and stop tolerating Duterte’s incessant attacks against the Catholic Church clergy and human rights defenders.