Photo of Archbishop Socrates Villegas at Dagupan Church

Extrajudicial Killings condemned by Philippine Bishops

Catholic Bishops react to Extrajudicial Killings

Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ pastoral appeal to law enforcers calls for an end to extrajudicial killings. Archbishop Villegas is Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan, and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. He was speaking in the wake of a spate of extrajudicial killings of people accused or suspected of drug crimes.

Archbishop Villegas notes “an increasing number of reports that suspected drug-peddlers, pushers and others about whom reports of criminal activity have been received, have been shot, supposedly because they resisted arrest.” He deplores the rise of vigilantism. He describes “bodies, apparently of homicide or murder victims, showing up on whom placards announcing their supposed crimes are writ large.”

Read the Pastoral Appeal

Issued on 20 June 2016, Appeal to Reason and Humanity, points out five guidelines for the use of force.


Firstly, law enforcers may shoot in self-defence, but strict criteria need to be met.

Secondly, “to kill a suspect outright” is not “moral justified” no matter how much surveillance has been conducted. Suspicion is not certainty, and “punishment may only be inflicted on the grounds of certainty.”

Thirdly, if a suspect attempts to flee, non-lethal measures should be used to stop the suspect.

Fourthly, the Bishops say plainly that it “is never morally permissible to receive reward money to kill another.” Law enforces should not behave like bounty hunters or become guns for hire.

Finally, it is the duty of every Christian to stay away from participation in or cooperation with vigilantes. In fact, it is their responsibility to report such activity.

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