Oldest bell in Philippines tolls against drug killings

(UCAN) The Catholic Church in the northern Philippines has rung the country’s oldest bell to echo a national call by bishops to protest extra-judicial killings.

The Santa Maria bell, forged in 1595, tolled at exactly 8pm on Sept. 24 in the town of Camalaniugan, in Cagayan province.

San Jacinto de Polonia Parish priest Ricardo Pagadu said ringing the oldest bell, along with other historic bells in Tuguegarao Archdiocese, is “an appeal for due process and a call to end all killings.”

Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao issued a pastoral letter the same day urging Catholics to participate in a 40-day period of prayer and reflection “in remembrance of the souls of those killed.”

“We also urge all Catholics, during this same 40-day period, to light candles in front of their homes, in cemeteries, in public places, and particularly; in spots where victims have been killed, while praying for them and their families,” the prelate said.

The archbishop also encouraged the public to help support orphaned children of the victims. [More]