TACLOBAN CITY—Fr. Virgilio Cañete of Palo Archdiocese has admitted that the Catholic Church is “helpless” in solving the spate of drug-related killings in the country. Cañete’s remarks came after three suspected drug personalities in Tacloban city were killed last July 29 at the vicinity of the Daniel Z. Romualdez(DZR) Airport where Pope Francis held Mass on January 17, 2015 for survivors of supertyphoon “Yolanda” that killed over 6,000 people. The victims, two of them were women, bore multiple gunshot wounds. A paper marked with crude writings “I am a pusher, Lord I am sorry” was also found along with the dead bodies.

A witness said that at least 10 gunshots were heard and men speeding on their motorcycles were seen in the area before the bodies were discovered early morning. “Only the police and the President can stop it by declaring moratorium. The respite might show whether it’s the drug syndicates who do the killings, but remember it can work both ways for them,” Cañete said in an interview. “The Church cannot do anything now. It had already warned of the consequences. Those who started these bloodbaths have the will to stop them,” he added. Cañete, however, noted that there is a growing affirmation from the public on the series of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminal and drug personalities in the country after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was elected into office last May. Mr. Duterte earlier declared that his anti-drug campaign will be a bloody one.

Citing a news report, the priest said that there is a majority view on agreeing to the extra-judicial killing. “Though there are no surveys to back it up, more based on ventilated sentiments in social media and the pulse of the streets feeling frustration of the proliferation of drugs and the crimes it effects,” he said. Asked whether the Church is now powerless in its moral and spiritual teachings to its flock, Cañete said that the public “rather listen to those ranters who follow blindly every word of their idol.” “We hope the President calls it off. The drug war can still be fought but not this way. Leave the police to exercise the best of their expertise. This manner of conducting the war is easy,” he said. In Eastern Visayas alone, over 6, 000 drug users and pushers have reportedly surrendered to the authorities voluntarily after the government intensified its nationwide anti-illegal drugs campaign dubbed as “Oplan Tokhang.”