Davao archbishop issues pastoral letter addressing extrajudicial killings

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2009

THE Catholic Church is alarmed with the series of extrajudicial killings in Davao City and asked for the forgiveness of their sins (killers) this coming Lenten season.

In a two-page Pastoral Letter (prayer) of Archbishop Fernando Capalla of the Archdiocese of Davao, he condemned the killings in their province by saying that the persons behind it must not be allowed to take “the law into one’s hands.”

The Archdiocese of Davao asked for the forgiveness of the souls of those who committed the crimes and the persons who were victims of these senseless killings.

“In this penitential season of Lent—and even beyond—give us the courage and strength to make reparation for all our sins and crimes by means of voluntary acts of penance and self-sacrifice symbolized by your cross,” reads the pastoral letter.

The people of Davao were urged to utter the said pastoral letter-prayer “kneeling down after Holy Communion.”

The city government of Davao was also criticized for allowing these extrajudicial killings happen without moving a finger to solve these killings.

“Our people’s wounds are deep and wide. These wounds are the hatred and dislike of drug addicts and drug pushers, the senseless disregard of due process of law, the violent killing of mere suspects, the crass taking of the law into one’s hands, the lustful greed in the hooded killers on motorbikes, the baseless claim that there are no witnesses, the inhuman disrespect for life of the unborn from womb to tomb, and the unjust socio-political system that tolerates all these to happen,” the letter-prayer says.

Reports say that the Davao Death Squad is the known hit men in the killings in Davao City.

Recently, the European Parliament has urged the Philippine government to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of extrajudicial killings in the country.

According to European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair McDonald, they condemned the killing of Rebelyn Pitao, 20-year-old daughter of Leoncio Pitao, alias Commander Parago, a ranking official of the New People’s Army in Davao City.

Pitao was found dead March 5, 2009 a day after she was abducted in Davao City. Her naked body was found floating in a shallow creek in the village of San Isidro in Davao del Norte’s Carmen town. Pitao’s body bore torture marks and authorities believe that she was raped before she was stabbed in the chest. Her father tagged 11 military agents as behind the murder, an accusation strongly denied by the authorities.

On the other hand, Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna partylist also denounced the senseless killings in Davao City.

He cited the killing of an official of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Davao City. Victim Celso Pojas, 40, spokesman of the KMP-Davao Chapter sustained three gunshot wounds to his body and forearm.

In 2006, the bishops of Davao Region made a stand against extrajudicial killings through the Davao-Digos-Tagum-Mati (Daditama) by stressing the need for social consciousness to uphold the sacredness of a man’s life. The Daditama meeting is a quarterly assembly of the four dioceses designed to foster better and stronger relation among the members of the sub-region, tackle and share insights on important concerns, and help in coming out with solutions to the concerns and problems.

In the statistics of the Commission on Human Rights, it states that from 2001 to 2008, there were 611 incidents of extrajudicial/political killings that occurred. In the Davao Region alone, it was recorded that there were 119 incidents of extrajudicial killings.
— Jomar Canlas, Manila Times

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