“You have fake freedom when justice is toyed with. I repeat: trampling on life is against the will of God,” Manila’s Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said in Filipino in a statement yesterday, as the Philippines commemorated its 120th Independence Day.
He said this as he spoke out against a series of reported killings of priests in the country.
On Sunday, Father Richmond Nilo from the Diocese of Cabanatuan was shot by still unidentified assailants, making him the third priest reportedly killed in the last six months.
“They spare no one: infants, young people, parents, grandmothers, police officers, soldiers, and priests,” Tagle said.
He also mourned the death of Henry Acorda, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was killed in Slovakia last week.
“We weep for them, for their families and for the nation. We ask justice for them,” he said.
The cardinal also called for lawmakers and law government agencies to give gun control laws a closer look.
“Why are there so many guns or weapons at disposal?” he asked.
“Perhaps there should be an examination of laws and regulations on the manufacture, sale, purchase, and possession of firearms. Let’s not wait for the day when it’s easier to buy a gun than it is to buy rice.”
Earlier this week, the Diocese of Cabanatuan released a statement condemning the killing of Father Nilo, calling the act “un-Filipino.”
“No priest, and no human being for that matter, deserves to be killed with utter brutality, disrespect and impurity…To kill a priest then, for whatever motive or cause, is not only unchristian and inhuman; it is also un-Filipino,” it read.
Last September, local Catholic bishops spoke up against President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, which has killed more than 4,000 in police operations, according to the latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP). However, the Human Rights Watch said the number is actually closer to 12,000.