Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday reminded the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of the principle of separation of church and state following its pastoral letter denouncing the spate of drug-related killings.
“CBCP members, being citizens of the Republic can also comment; pero let’s try to keep Church and State separate...Let’s give the government some slack or leeway to run the government,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.
Pimentel, a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, said he did not hear the CBCP’s pastoral letter after failing to attend the Sunday Mass.
In its letter, the CBCP expressed concern for the lives of drug suspects and their families amid the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
It said there is a “reign of terror in many places of the poor.”
“Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account. An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong," the pastoral letter said.
Pimentel said the CBCP’s letter can also do so much as policymakers still have the last say on how the war on drugs will be carried out.
“Maybe they want it to stop but that’s still a sentiment of some citizens of the republic of the Philippines. But because of the separation, policy makers should be convinced of their sentiments,” he said.
Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitute states “the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”
Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed the sentiment of Pimentel, saying the CBCP, just like anybody else, enjoys the freedom to say anything they want.
“I cannot blame them kasi ang nakikita lang nila at naririnig nila yung spate of killings that are being reported...Highlighed masyado ang enforcement dahil may namamatay,” Sotto said.
Sotto said the government’s approach should also encompass drug use prevention and rehabilitation of drug users.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said CBCP's letter is "healthy for democracy" as it calls the attention of the government.
"Mabuti rin yan para kung may nagsasalita kasi may pwedeng makinig. Kung walang magsasalita, wala tayong mapapakinggan,"
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