Public urged to sign online petition against death penalty
Bishop Crispin Varquez welcomes the “Lakbay-Buhay” pilgrims upon their arrival in Borongan City on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. ALREN JEROME BERONIO/ESTE NEWS
MANILA— A group of cross country pilgrims reached Eastern Samar province Wednesday, and called on the public to support and sign an online petition against the revival of the death penalty.
The marchers are expected to arrive in Manila on March 19 and will deliver the petition on www.change.org, titled “Junk Death Penalty! #LakbayBuhay”, to the Senate on May 24.
Welcoming the marchers in Borongan City were local Church officials led by Bishop Crispin Varquez who lauded the group’s initiative to drum up public awareness against capital punishment.
“We reaffirm our commitment to life. All people deserve a chance to reform and not be punished by death,” Varquez said.
“The Church is for life that’s a gift from God and no one has the right, not even the government, to kill because life is sacred,” he said.
The petition called on senators to reject the capital punishment saying that it is anti-poor and will not deter crime in a country with an imperfect justice system.
“In the country, in their inability to get good lawyers and where some judges can be bought, death penalty only punishes the poor, and some of them believed to be innocent,” it said.
The petition also warned the legislators that restoring the capital punishment is unlawful as it violates existing international treaties where the Philippine government is signatory to.
And these violations, it said, also constitute economic repercussions.
“The European Union will be forced to impose tax to 6,000 export products from the Philippines,” it said, adding that the country puts at risk about US$12.3 billion worth of trade.
According to the marchers, these possible consequences will primarily affect farmers and fisherfolk and their livelihoods.
On Thursday, the pilgrims are expected to reach Catarman in Norther Samar before crossing over from Visayas to Luzon the following day.
It was last May 4 when the marchers started their 21-day march-caravan from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao and went through the cities of Cebu, Ormoc, and Tacloban.
In the following days, they will go to Sorsogon, Legaspi City, Naga City, Gumaca and Lucena City, San Pablo City, Lipa City in Batangas, Imus in Cavite.
On May 21, the marchers will join an expected huge crowd for a Mass that will be held at the Quirino Grandstand with church leaders and other religious groups.
The 12 core pilgrims each represent farmers, indigenous peoples, labor, urban poor, and other basic sectors of society.
“We pray for our Senators to decide based on conscience and reason and to side with the poor on this matter by rejecting the death penalty,” they said. CBCPNews