Our national dailies for the past few weeks have been carrying news about activists, leftist-militants, journalists, defenders of the poor suspected as communists, and even police and army men, being killed or abducted. The latest, for example, is the killing of Sotero Llamas, identified as peace adviser, among several hundred others in the list. The total number is alarming. It is a sad commentary of our country and government which want to abolish death penalty.
We are concerned not only for the victims, who have not been or are not given a chance to defend themselves in court, but also for their immediate families suddenly and unhappily left orphans. Whoever are the perpetrators, and whatever is the cause, the victims—irrespective of any ideology they profess—are still subjects of human rights and are entitled to due process in an unbiased court.
In defense of human life, the Church through Pope John Paul II clearly teaches: “There exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object.” Therefore, “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide …; whatever violates the integrity of the human person such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as …arbitrary imprisonment … all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation to the honor due to the Creator” (Vatican II Gaudium et Spes, 27; Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 80). The Pope reiterates: “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice” (Veritatis Splendor, 81).
It is not right that people be killed simply because they have different “political beliefs” or are suspected of being “subversive” or of plotting against the government. The killings leave deep scars on the memory of people especially members of their families which no amount of talk about national security will completely erase. This is a sin against life, a sin against human dignity. Human life, whose ever it is, is sacred. Retribution and vengeance simply perpetuates the cycle of violence.
If we are to work out our salvation and transformation as a nation, we must begin with our Gospel faith which tells us what our perspective on human life and our task in its regard. We would like to quote again from the late Pope John Paul II who emphatically stated “Do not kill! Do not prepare destruction and extermination for men! Think of your brothers and sisters who are suffering hunger and misery! Respect each one’s dignity and freedom!” (Redemptor Hominis, 16).
May Mary, Mother of Life, help us and intercede for us that we may together work to keep life ever sacred.
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
May 31, 2006