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Philippine police chief invites priests to join Duterte's drug raids

(Reuters/Czar Dancel)Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa gestures during a news conference at the PNP headquarters in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines January 30, 2017.

The Philippine police chief has invited priests to join the anti-drug operations in an attempt to make the campaign against drugs "less bloody."

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa said that the police is now ready to resume the war on drugs, and priests, as well as pastors and Muslim clerics, are invited to join the drug raids to reduce the risk of violence and bloodshed.

"The parish priest can join if not his representative, so as to make our campaign credible. I'm appealing to the clergy for support," said Dela Rosa, as reported by The Philippine Star.

"Imagine you're a drug personality and the people who come knocking on your door turn out to be the chief of police, the barangay [village] captain and the local priest. I think it will soften your heart, and make you immediately follow their advice to change your ways, or undergo rehab if you're not yet ready," he continued.

President Rodrigo Duterte suspended the PNP from the war on drugs after rogue police officers allegedly killed a South Korean businessman right inside the PNP headquarters. Dela Rosa vowed that the campaign will only resume after a cleansing of police ranks.

Dela Rosa said the police will be equipped with body cameras to record the drug raids in communities, adding that the operations will be led by municipal chiefs of police and village chairs.

The priests will also be provided copies of the government's list of drug suspects to allow them to convince the drug users or pushers to reform. "The Church would be a big help to make this campaign less bloody or bloodless," he said, according to Inquirer.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has stated that there is no need for priests to join the anti-drug operations as Dela Rosa had already guaranteed enough safeguards to prevent abuses.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, secretary general of the CBCP-Public Affairs Committee, said that the church will support the operations as long as there are no killings and unjust practices.

Secillano had expressed doubts that bishops would order the priests to join the drug raids, and he stressed that priests have their own programs to rehabilitate drug users. Apart from the rehabilitation programs, the church also conducts dialogues with people using or selling drugs through its Basic Ecclesial Communities.

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