Philippine Church head urges end to drug killings

The body of an alleged drug dealer lies on the road after a police anti-drug operation in Manila on August 17, 2017. Police in the Philippine capital shot dead 25 drug suspects in another round of anti-drug raids, authorities said on August 17, as they followed President Rodrigo Duterte's call for dozens of deaths a day. The killings, carried out in Manila from Wednesday to Thursday morning, came after police shot dead 32 drug suspects in the province neighbouring the capital early in the week in what was billed as a "shock and awe" operation against drug traffickers. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2017

Philippine Church head urges end to drug killings

MANILA: The head of the Philippines’ powerful Catholic Church called Sunday 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, authorities said, as rights groups and lawmakers condemned the operation as an alarming “killing spree” in Duterte’s flagship campaign.
On Sunday, the highest-ranking Church official in the predominantly Catholic nation 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.
“The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”
Duterte, 72, launched an unprecedented crackdown on illegal narcotics after winning the presidency last year on a promise to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
The Church, one of the nation’s oldest and most influential institutions, had been among the few voices denouncing the deaths as polls showed Duterte continued to enjoy widespread popularity.
During the 14 months Duterte has been in power, police have confirmed killing more than 3,500 people — insisting they acted in self-defense.
More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data.
The numbers saw a sudden increase this week, with Duterte praising officers who shot dead 32 people in a single province as he urged for more.
Following Duterte’s call, at least 44 people were killed in various cities, including a 17-year-old boy whose death on Thursday sparked a national furor.
Relatives of 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 them first.
In Sunday’s statement, 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.
The Catholic Church has been a central figure in some of the Philippines’ most tumultuous political events, including the 1986 “People Power” revolution that overthrew dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The Church had initially declined to criticize Duterte’s drug war but as the death toll of mostly poor people mounted, it began last year a campaign to stop the killings.
Church groups have sheltered witnesses and provided financial and emotional support for families of those slain.
In response, Duterte had launched a broadside against priests and bishops whom he accused of “hypocrisy.”
On Sunday, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines joined Tagle in denouncing the deaths, calling on the faithful to ring church bells daily in solidarity with the victims.
“The sound of the bells is a wake-up call for a nation that no longer knows how to condole with the bereaved, that is cowardly to call out evil. The sound of the bells is a call to stop consenting to the killings!” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
Duterte’s spokesman said Saturday the government would investigate the deaths but added the president would “vigorously pursue” his drug war.


China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment

Updated 17 February 2020

China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment

  • Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic

BEJING: Chinese health officials Monday urged patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood so that plasma can be extracted to treat others who are critically ill.
Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic, which has which killed 1,770 people and infected over 70,500 people across China.
Plasma from patients who have recovered from a spell of pneumonia triggered by COVID-19 contains antibodies that can help reduce the virus load in critically ill patients, an official from China’s National Health Commission told a press briefing Monday.
“I would like to make a call to all cured patients to donate their plasma so that they can bring hope to critically ill patients,” said Guo Yanhong, who heads the NHC’s medical administration department.
Eleven patients at a hospital in Wuhan — the epicenter of the disease — received plasma infusions last week, said Sun Yanrong, of the Biological Center at the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“One patient (among them) has already been discharged, one is able to get off the bed and walk and the others are all recovering,” she said.
The call comes days after China’s state-owned medical products maker reported successful results from its trial at Wuhan First People’s Hospital.
China National Biotec Group Co. said in a post on its official WeChat account that severely ill patients receiving plasma infusions “improved within 24 hours.”
“Clinical studies have shown that infusing plasma (from recovered patients) is safe and effective,” Sun said.
Blood doners will undergo a test to ensure that they are not carrying the virus, said Wang Guiqiang, chief physician at Peking University First Hospital.
“Only plasma is taken, not all the blood,” he said.
“Other components of the blood including red blood cells and platelets will be infused back into the donors.”