Archdiocese of Manila willing to host forum on illegal drugs issues

MANILA -- The Archdiocese of Manila is willing to spearhead a multi-sectoral dialogue that will invite people, professionals, organizations, among others to discuss issues and concerns in connection with the illegal drug problem in the country.

"The Archdiocese of Manila would be willing to host such multi-sectoral dialogue. To date we have been encouraged by our partnership with some good government servants, police and military personnel," Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said in a statement Monday.

With this, he believed that illegal drug problem "should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us."

"First, all Filipinos agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. We must face and act upon together, as one people. Unfortunately, it has divided us.

Given the complexity of the issues, no single individual, group or institution could claim to have the only right response," the Cardinal said.

"We need one other. We cannot disregard each other. Let us invite families, national government agencies, local government units, people's organizations, schools, faith-based communities, the medical profession, the police and military, recovering addicts etc. to come together, listen to each other and chart a common path," he added.

At the same time, Tagle enjoined parishes and vicariates to commit again to the parish-based drug rehabilitation program of the Archdiocese of Manila called Sanlakbay in partnership with the local government and police.

The Catholic prelate is also said people or families of drug victims and those who were killed during illegal drug operations should be allowed to speak on the matter.

"Secondly, to understand the situation better, we need not only statistics but also human stories. Families with members who have been destroyed by illegal drugs must tell their stories. Families with members who have been killed in the drug-war, especially the innocent ones, must be allowed to tell their stories," he said.

"Drug addicts who have recovered must tell their stories of hope. Let their stories be told, let their human faces be revealed. We knock on the consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity. We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives," Tagle added.

Meanwhile, churches under the Archdiocese have started on Monday the nine-day offering of prayers at all masses for the victims and families of those who were killed in connection with the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the government.

"I call on all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila to mark the nine days from August 21 (Memorial of St. Pope Pius X) to August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist) as time to offer prayers at all masses for the repose of those who have died in this war, for the strength of their families, for the perseverance of those recovering from addiction and the conversion of killers," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency