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Bishop says ‘virus of indifference’ affects many Filipinos

A dangerous “virus” has been infecting the Filipino people for several months already, warned a Catholic bishop in the Philippine capital Manila.

Bishop Pablo David of Kalookan said the “virus of indifference” has been spreading faster than the coronavirus that has infected more than 4,500 people in 15 countries in recent days.

“We are paranoid about the coronavirus that has hardly infected a single Filipino, but we don’t even seem to care about this virus of indifference that has killed thousands already,” said the prelate.



The bishop was referring to the spate of killings in the country that has been linked by human rights groups to the government’s “war on drugs.”

He said even the media have stopped featuring victims in the news.

“Symptoms include a deadened conscience that is silently convinced that extrajudicial killing is probably the most effective solution to the problems of criminality and illegal drugs,” said Bishop David.

Even the mainstream media, he said have stopped featuring victims in the news.

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“The latest cases are immediately treated as stale news if they are drug-related,” said the bishop. “How can they be newsworthy if they are ‘more of the same’?” he added.

He said the killings still continue in his diocese where unidentified gunmen shot dead a 37-year-old male on Jan. 27.

Another dead body was also found shot a day earlier.

“The victim seems to have been bound and brought to the area and executed in the dark isolated street,” said Bishop David.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Philippines’ Diocese of Kalookan speaks during the first day of the annual Philippine Conference on New Evangelization in Quezon City on Jan. 28. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Last week, the bishop visited a wake of another victim of what has been believed as drug-related killings.

“I spoke with a family member who said there were actually five of them who had been gunned down by a group of men,” he said, adding that two died on the spot.

“The killers are busy again, prowling like predators in our communities. Please pray for the families of victims,” said the prelate.

Call for dialogue

Meanwhile, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila reminded the faithful of the “first crime recorded on the Bible,” that is the killing done by a brother.

Speaking at the annual Philippine Conference on New Evangelization on Jan. 28, Cardinal Tagle said the same sin of killing a brother is being “passed on” until now “as if they did not come from the same mother.”

He called on Filipinos to be part of constant dialogue because “a real Catholic is not afraid of dialogue.”

“One should say because I’m a Catholic, I will engage in dialogue,” said the cardinal. He said “dialogue is not just a style, it is following God.”

He urged the gathering of about 10,000 people to prayed that people will “recognize each other as siblings in one family.”

Thousands of Filipino Catholics attend the first day of the annual Philippine Conference on New Evangelization in Quezon City on Jan. 28. (Photo by Angie de Silva)


For the past six years, the annual conference has been held every July, but because Cardinal Tagle, who started the gathering, will soon leave for the Vatican, the meeting has been moved to January.

The conference was introduced by Cardinal Tagle in 2013 as a response to the call of the “new evangelization.”

Pope Francis has named Cardinal Tagle prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as Propaganda Fide.

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