Huwag Kang Papatay

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It is known as the Sixth Commandment of God: ‘Thou Shall Not Kill.’ Huwag Kang Papatay.‘ It has become a battlecry for the Duterte-era Philippine Catholic Church.

Pro-Liberal Party bishops have used this battlecry to mimic the president’s critics opposed to the war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs).

Whether it be 700 or 7,000, the deaths associated with the drug war — whoever carried them out — are a moral issue. Hence, despite the constitutional mandate of the separation of church and state, we cannot totally dismiss the bishops’ concern for the sanctity of life.

Filipino Catholics who attended last Sunday’s church services were subjected to this moral lecture which described the drug-related deaths as creating a “reign of terror.”

Weeks before, some Catholic parishes put up photo exhibits of the alleged EJKs and displayed huge banners bearing their “Huwag kang papatay” battlecry.

But does morality have a color? As in yellow?

Why has the Catholic Church kept silent after the Jan. 25, 2015 Mamasapano clashes that claimed the lives of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF)? It refused to join the calls for President Aquino’s resignation for his complicity and refusal to acknowledge command responsibility over the unnecessary deaths?

Specifically, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said it cannot morally join in the calls for Aquino’s resignation, “leaving this decision to his humble and prayerful discernment of his capacity to lead and the support he has not only from officials of government but from members of Philippine society.”

Huwag kang papatay.

Why is it then that the Catholic Church did not hold vigils or photo exhibits of the Hacienda Luisita massacre of November 16, 2004?

The massacre, the worst slaughter of Filipino workers in recent Philippine history, exposed the kind of  “oligarch democracy,” which imposes silence and death on the exploited and oppressed who are merely fighting for their rights. It is enraging because the police and army attack was ordered directly by the Manila government, and was carried out on behalf of the Cojuangco-Aquino family, owners of Hacienda Luisita.

Huwag kang papatay.

On January 22, 1987, the country witnessed the tragic shooting of protesting farmers, an incident better known as the Mendiola massacre. It happened eleven months into the (Cory) Aquino administration.

Thousands of frustrated farmers marched to Malacañang demanding fulfillment of land reform promised during the Aquino campaign. They were demanding the distribution of lands at no cost to beneficiaries. At least a dozen protesters were killed in the violent dispersal. More were seriously injured.

Where was the Catholic Church in the aftermath of Mendiola?

Aquino legacy you say? Yeah, include all three massacres: Hacienda Luisita, Mendiola and Mamasapano!

Huwag kang papatay. Maliban na lang kung dilaw ang kulay mo.

Is it any wonder that support for the Catholic Church in the Philippines — more specifically the leadership of its bishops — is slowly eroding among the Filipino faithful?

The CBCP has failed to influence the eventual passing of the country’s Reproductive Health Law. It faces another test of its influence on Philippine society when the issue of reinstating the death penalty comes up for a vote in Congress.

Huwag kang papatay.  Will this battlecry work this time around?

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