EXPRESSING concern over the rising incidence of summary executions amid the war on illegal drugs, Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, D.D. appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to declare dioceses or areas with ongoing drug rehabilitation programs as “peace zones.”
Tobias made the appeal during the National Launching of Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Ilegal Na Droga (MASA MASID) held at the SB Park, Batasan Hills last Sept. 28.
“Is it possible, Mr. President, that you declare as peace zones all dioceses or barangays with ongoing [drug] rehabilitation programs in collaboration with the police?” said the prelate expressing alarm over the reported more than 1,300 who died since the administration’s declared all-out war on drugs. The bishop noted that the increasing number of casualties is nearing the recorded 4,000 who died during the 20 years of Martial Law.
“This refers to a peace zone like that in Mindanao – where no one should die in the area [related to the war on drugs]. If someone dies in the areas declared as peace zones by the President, the President and the police will call you out,” he explained.
The bishop said if this is not possible, another option would be for the police to be transparent about who is on their list of drug dependents and pushers so the Church can help verify its veracity as well. Tobias hopes such information could be passed among the parishes through the priests and the barangays engaged in the drug rehabilitation program.
More importantly, the prelate reiterated the diocese’s thrust of healing and protection under its Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program (CBDRP) dubbed “Abot Kamay Alang-alang sa Pagbabago” (AKAP). He explained that the Catholic Church, particularly in the Diocese of Novaliches, is helping the Duterte administration in its fight against illegal drugs but only in the aspect of healing and protection through the “Principle of Double Effect.”