Filipinos urged: ‘Oppose death penalty’
MANILA, Dec. 8, 2016– Filipinos need to unite against the reimposition of capital punishment more urgently than ever amid attempts to “railroad” the passage of the death penalty bill, a ranking Catholic archbishop said.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said it is a “tragedy” that the proposed measure is being pushed for approval in Congress before Christmas.
“In resisting the threat of the restoration of the death penalty, we cannot be disunited or indifferent. On this pro-life issue let us truly unite. Come out and make a stand!” said the prelate.
Voting 12-6-1, the bill restoring the death penalty for all heinous crimes hurdled the House justice committee on Dec. 7.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, one of the co-authors of the bill, said he is confident the measure will be approved by the Lower House by Christmas.
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said lawmakers allied with the Duterte administration are “trying to railroad” the passage of the bill.
This was despite the fact, he said, that during the committee hearings the anti-death penalty advocates presented pieces of evidence that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, is anti-poor, and violates international agreements.
“The majority bloc Congressmen just wants it passed, period. And they want it fast as it is among the campaign promises of the incumbent President,” he said.
Diamante urged those who believe in the sanctity of human life and the dignity of every person to “stand up and resist this railroad attempt to pass this anti-life and anti-poor measure.”
“Let us make a more forceful stand against the death penalty,” he said. “Now more than ever we need to act fast and swiftly to counteract the prevailing culture of death in our society.’
Next week, the death penalty bill is expected to be debated on second reading.
Diamante called on the faithful to show their opposition to capital punishment and show support for anti-death penalty lawmakers.
“Let us all work together to uphold the sanctity of life! No to the death penalty! Yes to justice that heals!” he added.
In Pangasinan, Villegas also called on the faithful to join a prayer rally at the Parish of St. Dominic in San Carlos City on Dec. 12.
“I am calling on the God-loving people of the Archdiocese of Lingayen – Dagupan to come together in prayer to resist the treat of the death penalty in our country. The death penalty is contrary to our Catholic moral life,” he said in a circular that enjoined the faithful in his archdiocese to hold a “Prayer Rally for Life” on Dec. 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“This is a conscience call to stand up for life,” said Villegas. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)