Church prison ministry urges voters to reject pro-death penalty bets in 2022 polls

Church prison ministry urges voters to reject pro-death penalty bets in 2022 polls

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care. SCREENSHOT/LEGAZPI CATHEDRAL

By Mariel Celine L. Serquiña

June 23, 2021

Manila, Philippines

Less than a year before the polls, the prison ministry arm of the Catholic Church called on voters to reject candidates who favor capital punishment.

In its message for the 15th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in the country, the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care urged voters to affirm their ‘option for life’ through their votes.

“We challenge all sectors especially our youth to elect people who will rightfully serve the nation by championing the cause of life and fight the existing culture of death,” said its chairman Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi.

The ECPPC reiterated its opposition to the reimposition of capital punishment in the country, saying that it is “violative of the inherent dignity of the human person”.

The death penalty will only victimize the poor, it added.

Baylon said that past experiences showed that most of those who were meted the death penalty were poor individuals who could not afford quality legal representation to defend them before the courts.

He also stressed that capital punishment “cannot work in an imperfect judicial system like ours”.

“Once carried out, the death sentence is irreversible, and there is no possibility for rectifying an erroneous judgment,” Baylon said.

“Let us instead continue affirming our Option for Life, and clamor the State to pass laws which will make our criminal justice system more restorative and not merely punitive,” he added.

Bringing back the death penalty has been a top priority of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in Congress filed measures to restore it.

The 1987 Constitution abolished the death penalty but allowed Congress to restore it for heinous crimes. President Fidel Ramos brought it back in 1993, but President Gloria Arroyo abolished it again on June 24, 2006.

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