Bishops last ditch appeal to lawmakers: Oppose death penalty

Bishops last ditch appeal to lawmakers: Oppose death penalty

Thousands of Catholics carry placards in a “Walk for Life” around the Quirino Grandstand in Manila to oppose the revival of the death penalty, Feb. 18, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

MANILA– Catholic bishops are making a last-ditch appeal to lawmakers to oppose the revival of the death penalty as the proposed measure inched closer to approval on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.

As the House leadership targets to pass the bill on third and final reading on March 7, church officials urged the legislators to also carry out nominal voting.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo lamented that the lawmakers approved on second reading the contentious measure to reimpose capital punishment on drug-related offenses by voice voting.

“The lower House has chosen death and not life. They were even afraid to be identified. They refused nominal voting,” said Pabillo, chairman of the bishops’ Commission on the Laity.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said yesterday’s passage of the bill was largely expected.

“They have chosen the path to death instead of standing for life in this season of Lent,” he said.

“But what can we really expect from the House leaders whose ardent wish is to please a President who have given them favors?” Diamante said.

According to him, the least the House leadership could do is to have nominal voting “and let the people know their reasons for restoring an instrument of death”.

Lipa Archbishop Emeritus Ramon Arguelles also said it’s ironic that the measure was approved on Ash Wednesday, “the first day of the season on conversion from evil ways”.

“The legislators choose to go against the Word of God. They choose death in the name of the people,” said the prelate.

He reiterated the Church position that in cases involving punishment, the poor seldom find equal justice.

Even in the present criminal justice system, the former military prelate claimed the poor are far more likely to receive the death sentence than wealthy people accused of similar crimes.

“Certainly death is only for the poor who will not be able to pay not even lawyers to defend them. Those who plunder and use people’s money for their evil deeds ‘legally’ elude death penalty,” Arguelles said.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila earlier said humans cannot pretend to be gods in calling on legislators to reject the death penalty.

He said human life is God’s gift as people were created in His image, and every human being is saved by Jesus Christ.

“Before God the source of life, we are humble. We cannot pretend to be gods,” said Tagle.

“This is the reason why an ethic of life, a culture of life, is inconsistent with abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking, mutilation, and violence against innocent and vulnerable persons,” he said. CBCPNews





Solons told: Make conscience vote on death penalty

MANILA, Feb. 9, 2017— A Catholic prison ministry official called on lawmakers not to be swayed by political pressures and vote on the death penalty bill according to their conscience.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said they are hoping legislators will follow their conscience in voting against “the taking away of the life of the person.”

“They should not sacrifice their principles in measure that will only satisfy the ego of the present leaders in the house,’ he said.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday said members of the ruling party who are against the death penalty must resign.

He also warned those in the House leadership that they risk being ousted from their posts as deputy leaders and committee heads if they oppose the proposed measure.

Diamante also called on the House leadership not to railroad the passage of the bill and to allow more discussions on capital punishment.

“It is not worth it to pass a law that will not really serve justice to people concerned,” he said.

The Catholic Church strongly opposes moves in Congress to reinstate the death penalty in the country.

The proposed bill seeks the death penalty for several crimes categorized as “heinous”, including some forms of murder, rape, and drug offenses.

Plunder was originally included among the crimes punishable by death, but the lawmakers in the majority bloc reportedly agreed to remove it from the list. CBCPNews



Death penalty only perpetuates violence, warns Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (CBCPNews)

MANILA, Feb. 2, 2017– Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has warned that capital punishment might only fuel a cycle of violence.

The cardinal said the use of the death penalty by the government would only legitimize violence as a solution to problems.

“There is a danger that the death penalty might legitimize the use of violence to deal with every wrongdoing,” Tagle said in a pastoral guidance issued Thursday.

He said that penalties are “not (to) be imposed for vengeance but for correction of offenders and for the good of society.”

According to him, Catholic teaching also opposes death penalty because the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.

“There is real danger that the death penalty might be applied to an innocent person,” Tagle said.

“We need to reform institutions so they would safeguard justice while preventing the spread of a culture of violence,” he added.

Like other countries that have abandoned the use of death penalty, the cardinal called on lawmakers to instead find other means to suppress crimes while giving offenders the chance to reform.

“We need to reform institutions so they would safeguard justice while preventing the spread of a culture of violence,” he said. “A culture of violence dehumanizes. A culture of justice, integrity, and hope heals.”

Noting that death penalty is not a solution to criminality, Tagle also said that the root causes of the problem must be addressed, including providing solutions to poverty.

“To help solve these roots of criminality, the Church and the state need to protect and strengthen the basic unit of society, which is the family,” he said. CBCPNews


Bishops stand firm against death penalty

Philippine bishops celebrating the Eucharist during their plenary assembly held January 2017 (Photo by CBCPNews)

MANILA, Jan. 30, 2017– Violence against violence? It won’t solve anything, the country’s Catholic bishops have warned Monday.

In a statement released after their 3-day plenary assembly in Manila, the prelates said that the death penalty is no different from the crime it punishes.

That’s why it is regrettable, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, that there are “strident efforts” to restore the capital punishment in the country.

“When we condemn violence, we cannot ourselves be its perpetrators, and when we decry murder, we cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process,” he said.

“Throughout the world, the trend against the death penalty is unmistakable, and international covenants, one of which the Philippines is party to, obligate us not to impose the death penalty,” said Villegas.

The release of the statement also coincided a day before the House of Representatives begins its plenary debates on the death penalty bill on January 31.

The measure allows courts to impose death as punishment for a wide range of heinous crimes, particularly drugs, rape and murder.

Villegas reiterated that the Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message.

“It is this Gospel we must preach. It is this Gospel that we must uphold,” Villegas said.

“We therefore unequivocally oppose proposals and moves to return the death penalty into the Philippine legal system.”

“Though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we have no right ever giving up on any person,” he added. CBCPNews