Bishop fact-checks Duterte: No proof death penalty deters crime

Bishop fact-checks Duterte: No proof death penalty deters crime

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care. DIOCESE OF LEGAZPI

By Roy Lagarde

July 28, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop has refuted President Rodrigo Duterte that the death penalty deter criminals.

Bishop Joey Baylon of Legazpi said that the alleged deterrent effect of execution has been repeatedly debunked in various studies.

“The Church has always maintained that capital punishment, in whatever form it comes, is never a deterrent to crime. Studies have proven this time and again,” said Baylon, who heads the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care.

The prelate was reacting to Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, where the president called for the return of the the death penalty by lethal injection.

For the third time, he again used his SONA to make another push for the death penalty revival for drug-related crimes.

“This law will not only help us deter criminality but also save our children from the dangers posed by illegal and dangerous drugs,” Duterte said.

He also renewed a threat to kill drug dealers, admitting that drug syndicates continue to operate in the country despite his bloody war on drugs that’s claimed thousands of lives.

“Do not do it in my country because I will really kill you. That is a commitment,” he said.

The United Nations said in a recent report that Duterte’s drug war has sparked widespread killings amid “near impunity” for offenders.

The report also called for an independent investigation into human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Instead of reviving capital punishment, Bishop Baylon said “restorative justice” is the more dignified choice.

“With the death penalty justice is nothing but punishment, and never a way to reform the offender. But true justice is restorative, never punitive,” he said.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga also warned that reimposing death penalty in the Philippines weakens appeals to save Filipinos on death row abroad.

“With death penalty we lose moral authority and credibility to beg for life, to save lives of our imprisoned overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” he said.

Death penalty ‘is everything against God’ — priest

Jesuit Fr. Silvino Borres, president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty (CADP).

By CBCP News

June 25, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic priest said that death penalty is against God, and called on Christians to take a stand for life “wherever we find it”.

Jesuit Fr. Silvino Borres, president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty (CADP), said that even a criminals have an affirmative right to rehabilitation.

The priest on Wednesday celebrated Mass online with restorative justice advocates to mark the 14th anniversary of the abolition of capital punishment in the Philippines.

“Whenever you call for the death of another person even just in thoughts, we are already sinning against the Lord who calls everyone to life,” Fr Borres said in his homily.

“Even if He calls for justice for sinners and those who committed crimes, He calls for them to live and be rehabilitated because the Lord does not delight in the death of the wicked,” he said.

He stressed that to call for the death of another person, whether it has legal backing, is unexpected of someone or communities “that are made in the likeness of God”.

Fr. Borres also said the celebration is also significant because death penalty was abolished on the feast of St. John the Baptist.

“On this feast, we are reminded of our mission to restore men and women to the likeness of God,” he said.

“Death penalty has no association whatsoever with God. In fact, it is everything that is against God, who is the God of life and love,” he added.

The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006 but President Rodrigo Duterte wanted it restored for illegal drugs, heinous crimes, and plunder.

But while death penalty remains suspended, the priest lamented how the “culture of killing continue to flourish in our midst”.

“Be also mindful that even though, legally speaking there is no state-sanctioned killing, we know that the culture of death is still here among us,” Fr Borres also said.

“And we are called to shed light on every occasion where there is transgression on life,” he said.

Bishop Joel Baylon, chairman of the Church’s Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, stressed that the death penalty “has no place in a Christian and civilized society like ours”.

“While we believe that offenders must be made accountable for their acts or omissions committed against their victims and the community, they should be given proper treatment to enable them to rehabilitate and change for the better,” Baylon said.

“We believe that our justice system should move beyond punishment towards a justice that promotes healing and rehabilitation.”

“We therefore call on our legislators and policy makers to pass measures that will respect life and the dignity of the human person,” he said.