The Philippines’ war on drugs has drawn continuous pleas from Catholic churches to treat addicts with human dignity and to choose rehabilitation over annihilation. Now, a priest is answering this call by starting an effort to do just that.
Father Luciano Ariel Felloni is an Argentinian missionary who has lived in the Philippines for the last 20 years, serving as the parish priest of Camarin, Caloocan. His commitment to reintegrate former drug addicts into the society was formally announced during his lecture at the 4th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization. “We have to [do] something to help, to help the government in the war against drugs but we have to do it in a Christian way. We cannot simply watch these events unfold. Prayer is not enough.”
At the time, Fr. Felloni was running a small counseling group that saw some of its attendees graduate and be taken off the Philippines National Police (PNP) watchlist. Now, he is beginning a serious effort to rehabilitate addicts, lead them to live a meaningful and dignified life in his parish in the diocese of Novaliches.
According to Agenzia Fides, the counselling group initially had to deal with the police’s hostility and skepticism of drug addicts. However, as more and more people started to enrol to the group, confidence on the project also began to increase.
Father Felloni began working with local civil leaders in September 2016, when the number of drug suspects killed in his community saw a sharp spike. “We asked ourselves what we could do in our small way to help a campaign against drugs, but working in the right way, in defense of the dignity of every person, and of the community,” explained Fr. Felloni to Fides.