Anti-death penalty pilgrims set off on cross-country walk to Manila

Anti-death penalty pilgrims set off on cross-country walk to Manila
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Nassa Executive Secretary, and other pro-life advocates thumbs down death penalty during a press briefing in Manila, May 5, 2017. NASSA

MANILA— A group of advocates have set off on a cross-country walk from Cagayan de Oro City to Manila in order to raise awareness and to talk about why the death penalty should not be revived in the country.

The 14 “core pilgrims” from various sectors such as the women, farmers, fishermen, laborers and youth gathered for prayers before heading off on the 21-day journey from Cagayan de Oro City last Thursday.

Backed by the bishops’ National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), the core pilgrims will pass through Cebu, other provinces of Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Southern Luzon and is expected to reach Manila by May 19.

They will also be joined by civil society groups, human rights advocates, peoples’ organizations and church people throughout the route of their journey.

Dubbed as “Lakbay Buhay”, Nassa executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez said it aims to affirm their “unqualified stand for the right to life”.

“This caravan is our way to let our lawmakers know that the church is not only the ones against death penalty but also Filipinos from different sectors,” Gariguez said.

Since the walk started in Mindanao, he said that the marchers want to emphasize that the capital punishment is not just an issue for Manila.

“The death penalty is inhumane as it runs contrary to the principle of restorative justice and corrupts the universal value of life; it is unlawful as it violates existing international treaties the Philippines is party to; it is ineffective as deterrent to crime and drug abuse; it is unjust as it is anti-poor,” said Gariguez.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan lauded the lay initiative as he called on the bishops where the caravan will traverse “to show an expression of hospitality and support” to the marchers.

“Our lay faithful are becoming more and more socially engaged. It is our duty as pastors to encourage them, to bless them and invite more lay faithful to assist them in the mission of social transformation,”

An interfaith prayer and a Mass are being planned at the Luneta grounds on May 21. The group will also conduct activities at the Senate grounds until the senators’ recess at the end of the month. Niceforo Vince A. Balbedina III, CSJL intern/CBCPNews