The kidnapping of innocent persons is one of the most disturbing facts of the present times, and one that has done incalculable harm not only to individuals but to the whole country. Hardly a day passes by without news of some kidnapping. Victims vary — children, adults, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, and now Spanish nationals, married people, religious priests, sisters or a brother. Places vary: urban and rural areas, crowded streets and beaches. The only unvarying element is the demand for ransom money in exchange for the safe return of the victims.
Sometimes kidnappings happen in broad daylight, in crowded places, in open defiance of the law enforcers who more often than not are exposed as incapable of retrieving safely the victims. Worse even, many people have lost their trust in the law enforcers who have been entrusted with the duty to protect them but who are suspected to be in connivance with the kidnappers.
We condemn unreservedly these kidnappings even as we sympathize with the victims and their families and beg the Lord to touch the hearts of the kidnappers.
We appeal to the kidnappers: “Release your victims. Mend your ways. Kidnapping is a despicable crime, a violation of the human dignity of the victims, a traffic in human beings, robbery of the first magnitude. It causes untold anguish to the victims and their families. It sabotages our economy and destabilizes society. You will pay dearly for this crime. You may evade the police but not the justice of God. ‘Vengeance is mine’ (Rom. 12:19), says the Lord. It will be terrible for you to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).”
We appeal to our government authorities to do all in their power to render our society safe from kidnappers and other disturbers of the peace. We ask for more effective enforcement of the law and a speedy execution of justice, especially in kidnapping cases. We ask for the full protection of witnesses so that they may not fear to come forward. We also ask that all efforts be made to restore the confidence of the people in the integrity and capability of our law enforcers. To this end we ask that resolute action be done to weed out and prosecute those suspected of masterminding or protecting kidnappers.
We appeal to our law enforcers in the PNP and in the military: “Cleanse your ranks of kidnappers accomplices or masterminds and improve your own competence in dealing with kidnappers. No one can restore the confidence of the people in you if you do not do so yourselves.”
We appeal to the different insurgent groups to exert their influence on members of their groups or of other armed groups in order to stop kidnappings and to obtain the release of kidnap victims. Such action will certainly contribute to the atmosphere of trust necessary for peace-building.
And we appeal to you, our fellow citizens. Immediately report any kidnappings you may know of and any details which can lead to the speedy arrest and conviction of kidnappers. By common action with others, express your indignation against all kidnappings. And pray that our society will be cleansed of this scourge. Kidnappers are the instruments of evil powers greater than themselves which can be overcome only by prayer and penance.
While we sympathize with the victims of kidnappers and with their families, we wish to point out that the payment of ransom encourages further kidnappings.
Let us implore our Almighty Father who loves us to save from harm all His children and to mete out justice to all kidnappers.
May Mary Help of Christians obtain from her Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, solace and hope for the families of kidnapping victims and the grace of security and peace for all of us.
For and in the name of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
(Sgd.)+CARMELO D.F. MORELOS, D.D.
Bishop of Butuan
January 25, 1993
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