CBCP agency remains vigilant against death penalty

CBCP agency remains vigilant against death penalty

Mr. Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, presents a handbook against death penalty after a Mass commemorating the 12th anniversary of the abolition of the capital punishment in the country, June 25, 2018. RICHARD DE LEON

By Richard de Leon

June 25, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Opponents of the proposal to reinstate capital punishment in the country remains steadfast and are keeping a close eye on the Senate.

Marking the 12th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty with a Mass in Manila on Monday, staunch “right to life” advocates said there is no room for complacency as the ball remains in the hands of the Senate.

Mr. Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, argued that “any deprivation of the right to life will not gain justice for all”.

“Rendering the death penalty as a means to obtain justice simply does the opposite as recent history has proven,” Diamante said.

“The death penalty has not deterred criminality and has even spurred more injustice by killing the innocent, those wrongly accused, those without proper defence and those who have been deprived of the opportunity to reform and restore the injury they caused to others. This is because ours is a system of justice replete with human errors,” he said.

In his homily, Fr. Robert Reyes of the Coalition Against Death Penalty (CADP) said that the revival of capital punishment will not make a difference because extrajudicial killings are already prevalent under the Duterte administration.

“People are getting used to the absence of due process, there are killings left and right,” he lamented.

Diamante reiterated the church’s appeal to lawmakers to use “restorative justice” as an alternative way to deter criminality.

“While our justice system seeks to punish the wrongdoer, it should move beyond punishment and seek healing of all stakeholders, the victim, the offender, and the society we live in,” he said.

On June 20, the prison ministry, together with the Free Legal Assistance Group, the Commission on Human Rights, and other members of the Anti-Death Penalty Task Force, launched a handbook opposing capital punishment and drug war.

Titled “Tending Life,” the handbook features studies and articles backing the failure of death penalty to address rising number of crimes and perpetration of illegal drugs.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he wanted death penalty reintroduced for a wide range of heinous crimes, particularly drugs, rape and murder.

The House of Representatives had already approved the death penalty bill in March 2017 but a similar measure has remained pending at the Senate.