Capalla issues Oratio Imperata for city’s healing from "unabated series of summary killings"

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 March) – For one year, Catholics attending the daily and Sunday masses here will recite “on bended knees” after the Holy Communion, an Oratio Imperata (obligatory prayer) for the city’s healing “in view of the unabated series of summary killings” here.

In his Circular 04 dated February 24, 2009, Archbishop Fernando  Capalla said the Oratio Imperata – Prayer for healing of our people – should be recited “personally and as a community” for one year starting Ash Wednesday on February 25.

The circular was issued Feb. 24.

Fifteen days earlier, on February 9, the City Council’s Committee on Human Rights and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City chapter organized a multi-sectoral dialogue on the summary killings.

It was in that dialogue where the IBP reported 813 victims of summary killings from 1998. In January 2009 alone, 33 persons had been reported killed.

In Cebu City on February 14, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima told reporter-participants of a human rights reporting training there that the CHR would conduct a public hearing on the vigilante killings in Davao City on March 30.

De Lima said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had expressed willingness to cooperate.

A copy of the prayer in Cebuano, was published by the weekly Davao Catholic Herald newspaper’s March 1 to 7 issue. The English version was also published, under Capalla’s column, “Shepherd’s Corner.”

Capalla said he composed the prayer “on request of the Davao Clergy especially the Fraternity of Priests headed by Fr. Leonardo Dublan, Jr.”

The prayer, he said, “echoes the important contents of my Pastoral Letter titled ‘Prophetic Lifestyle: A Lenten Reflection.’ It alludes to several burning issues of the day which are of great concern for the Church in this country as well as for each and everyone of us.”

“It is hereby recommended that the prayer be reflected (upon) and recited individually and as a community group. Doing this sort of deepening during Lent and Holy Week will surely be a great help in our preparation for a meaningful and fruitful Easter celebration,” the archbishop  wrote.

Capalla said the prayer has to be recited on bended knees “as a sign of humility.”

In the February 9 multi-sectoral dialogue in the city, Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal, representing the Coalition Against Summary Executions (CASE) and the church sector, wrote in his blog, that after IBP Davao president Manny Quibod reported on the number of summary executions, “the police officials made it clear that they do not condone summary killings.”

“In the middle of the dialogue, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte suddenly arrived and spoke for over 45 minutes. He denied involvement in these killings. He claimed that his previous statements threatening to kill drug pushers and criminals were meant to scare them so that they will be deterred from engaging in these crimes. He also said that as mayor he has a responsibility to protect the citizens of the city from these criminals. For as long as these criminals (especially the drug dealers and pushers) are in the city they are targets for assassination. He also criticized priests who accused him of links to the death squads and said that they should present their proof during the hearing that will be conducted by the Human Rights Commission. After speaking, he immediately left the room and we continued our dialogue,” Picardal wrote.

said that by the end of the forum the following recommendations were adopted: “to strengthen the partnership of the police and the community to create an “atmosphere of trust; to create of a multi-sectoral task force composed of the agencies in the dialogue;  to form an independent body to conduct an investigation of the cases; to maximize the witness protection program to encourage more witnesses to come out; stricter law involving motorcycles because of reports that the killers were using motorcycles without plates; to strengthen the forensic and investigative capability of all law enforcement agencies, and; to review the policies of media coverage on the killings.”

The Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, our city is wounded in its soul. Our people’s wounds are deep and wide. These wounds are the hatred and dislike of drug addicts and drug pushers, the senseless disregard of due process of law, the violent killing of mere suspects, the crash taking of the law into one’s hands, the lustful greed in the hooded killers on motor bike, the baseless claim that there are no witnesses, the inhuman disrespect for life of the unborn from womb to tomb, and the unjust socio-political system that tolerates all these to happen.

“Lord, on bended knees, we too confess that our souls and spirit are wounded by our anger and desire for revenge. Yes, we are angry because our loud protests and public outcry have fallen on deaf ears. Our souls are nourishing irresponsible suspicions and rash judgments on the real perpetrators of the crimes. We are wounded by our disunity and hopelessness which imprison our hearts and weaken our willpower. Most of all, Heavenly Father, our souls are wounded by our stark ignorance that we too are responsible for the existence and perpetuation of the systems that promote, condone and abet these social wounds in the soul and spirit of our people. For all these, Lord, we are deeply sorry and beg your mercy and forgiveness.

“God of power and mercy, since our collective efforts at peaceful protests have proven fruitless, we come to you for help. Yes, Lord, we come to ask for healing. Heal our souls and spirits of all the violent animosities that weaken our society and life. Give us light, give us strength, give us courage to believe and to trust in you. Make us realize that in each of us from every walk of life there is an inherent and inborn goodness. You planted this goodness and it is not and cannot be erased by our sin and crime. This is our reason for hope.

“For this reason, Heavenly Father, we beg you to give us your healing touch. Touch the hardened hearts of criminals, drug addicts, drug pushers, drug lords, law enforcers, and the hearts of us all. Open them to the healing power of your love and compassion. Give the grace of courage to the eyewitnesses of crimes. Awaken in us all a collective consciousness and support which are urgently needed by the witnesses and the grieving families of victims. Convert us to you and to one another. Reconcile us to you and to one another through sincere repentance and mutual forgiveness. For without forgiveness, there is no future for our city.

“In this penitential season of Lent – and even beyond – give us courage and strength to make reparation for all our sins and crimes by means of voluntary acts of penance and self-sacrifice symbolized by your cross. We believe that when these are offered together with your own sacrifice on the cross, they can save us, heal us, and restore us to your friendship (“by his wounds we have been healed” 1 Peter 2:24). Make us overcome the evil in the system by the power of goodness in us all who are within the system, the goodness that is rooted in you alone.

“We make this humble prayer together with the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, so that as one united family in the bond of love, we may all experience the soothing joy of your presence and the healing balm of your love, you who live and reign with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”