Manila Cardinal calls for an end to Duterte's 'killing spree'

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MANILA: The head of the Philippines' powerful Catholic Church called for an end to the "waste of human lives" following a brutal week in President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war in which a 17-year-old boy was among dozens killed.

Police raids, dubbed One Time Big Time, saw at least 76 people shot dead, the authorities said, as rights groups and lawmakers condemned the operation as an alarming "killing spree".

Yesterday, the highest-ranking Church official expressed concern about the increase in the number of deaths.

"We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives," Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle said in a statement read in Sunday masses in the capital, AFP reported.

"The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us."

In yesterday's statement, Cardinal Tagle called for nine days of prayer for people who have died in the drug war.

"Those with sorrowful hearts and awakened consciences may come to your pastors to tell your stories, and we will document them for the wider society," he said.

Another senior cleric, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, called for churches to ring their bells every evening at 8pm to stir the consciences of the authorities, Reuters reported.

"You shall not kill. That is a sin. That is against the law," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, relatives of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos released CCTV footage of the boy being dragged away by two officers as they questioned a police report that he shot at the officers first.

Some civil society groups and left-wing activists have called for protests, and increasing anger with the police was evident in social media posts.

Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said he has suspended the police chief in Caloocan City, where the boy was killed, pending an investigation.

Three officers involved in the operation were earlier relieved of duties.

PhilippinesdrugsGun Violence