Indian Catholic News

Philippines: Confession of a vigilante killer

'We killed him, we took him out of his house and shot him. We made it look like he fired a gun at us.'.

 
Manila: 

Juan (not his real name), a village official in the Philippines, was sitting in the middle of the empty church, waiting for the priest.

When the priest came, he asked Juan: "Can I help you?"

"Yes, Father, I want to confess," said the man. "I am ashamed of what I have done, not even God can forgive me," added Juan.

"You don’t know the mercy of a loving, caring Jesus. If you are truly repentant and willing to make amends for what you've done, forgiveness is possible," said the priest.

"Father, forgive me. My conscience will not let me sleep at night. I am deeply troubled by what I have done," said the man.

"What is it," asked the priest.

Then the man shared his story, poured out his anxiety as he sought relief for what he has done.

"Father, I joined a police squad. I became a vigilante. We wear [balaclavas] and we kill people in the village," he said.

He narrated how his group shot and killed a teenage boy who was suspected of being a drug user. "We had no evidence against him, but the group said let us get him," said Juan.

"We killed him, we took him out of his house and shot him. We made it look like he fired a gun at us. We then wrapped his body with a plastic bag and put a sign that said 'I am an addict,'" said the man.

It was to be a warning for others.

The priest expressed his shock. He prayed for strength to listen for what to say.

"Why did you and the others do it?" he asked.

The man said they did it for money. "We were offered a bounty for every person we kill, and we were also told we could save the country."

"The killing of the teenage boy was just the beginning," he said and he sobbed in front of the priest.

The priest could not believe that he was listening to a contract killer, a serial assassin. He thought if it was a real confession, a real change of heart and mind, a turning to God, or, is the man in front of him only in need of psychological relief and counseling.

"Juan, if this is to be a true confession, you will have to turn yourself to God, follow his way, and change your life," said the priest.

"You have to believe and live out the Gospel and repent, do penance, and make restitution, then you will be truly forgiven," he added.

The man looked at the priest and asked about his penance.

"You have to turn yourself into the custody of a trusted authority under the protection of the bishop and testify about the death squad," said the priest.

"That will be a true confession and your penance and restitution to the victims. Then you will truly be forgiven," said the priest, adding that "true faith must be seen in action for good."

There is change coming in many communities these days. People are emerging from the dark night of unknowing. They are realizing that they have been led astray and mesmerized by the shrill rhetoric of the voices of violence that convinced them that killing was the best way to bring peace and create a drug-free Philippine society.

Many Filipinos these days are slowly waking up to the truth that the extrajudicial killing of poor people is really murder, and that to remain silent before evil is to give support to evil.

One report states that forces unknown have killed 12,000 suspected drug users and peddlers in the country in the past year. No one has been held responsible, but the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

People are now listening to voices proclaiming the truth and protesting the killings, such as outspoken Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan who called on the killers, whom he described as the "living dead," to repent.

Unfortunately, if the bishop continues with his proclamation of the Gospel message that every person has the right to a life of dignity, he too might be labeled a drug lord.

Conscience is an inner knowledge of what is true and false, good and evil, right and wrong. Conscience can be manipulated and weakened and can be corrupted to believe that what is evil is good. Fake news, leaders making false promises and lies that are repeated many times over, and hyperbole can manipulate the mind and a person's conscience.

What we need is to proclaim the Gospel with prophetic voice and help people to accept and live by the truth and work for justice.

Source: UCAN

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