MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the death penalty on Thursday, January 26, after overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jakatia Pawa was executed by hanging in Kuwait while she maintained her innocence.
“The fact that Jakatia protested her innocence to the end of her life only underscores the abhorrence of the death penalty,” CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
“The sadness that we feel at Jakatia’s death should make us all advocates against the death penalty,” Villegas added.
The CBCP also sent its condolences to Pawa’s family.
Like the CBCP, Senator Risa Hontiveros stressed her opposition to the death penalty in the context of Pawa’s case. She said reinstating the death penalty will be a “step backward.”
Hontiveros said: “Sasabihin ng ibang bansa sa atin, ‘O kayong mga Pilipino, may death penalty naman kayo sa inyo. Ba’t ‘nyo hihingin sa amin ang kapatawaran at ang mercy sa inyong mga kababayan na gumawa ng heinous crimes dito sa amin, at sa ilalim ng aming batas ay dapat patawan ng parusang bitay?”
(Other countries will tell us, “You Filipinos, you have the death penalty in your country. Why will you ask from us forgiveness and mercy for your countrymen who committed heinous crimes in our country, and who, under our laws, should suffer the death penalty?”)
Courts can make mistakes, bishop says
Pawa, a 44-year-old mother of two, was executed on Wednesday, January 25, for killing her Kuwaiti employer’s 22-year-old daughter. (READ: Executed in Kuwait: Who was OFW Jakatia Pawa?)
Till death, Pawa asserted her innocence.
For one, the DNA found on the murder weapon “did not match with Jakatia’s DNA,” Senator Cynthia Villar said.
The possible execution of innocent people is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church and other groups oppose the capital punishment. (READ: A lethal mix? Death penalty and a ‘flawed, corrupt’ justice system)
In a statement in December 2016, Villegas pointed out that courts can also make mistakes.
The archbishop explained: “Paano kung matapos mabitay ay nakitang iba pala ang may kasalanan? Sorry na lang? Gayon ba? Ay mali? Maibabalik ba ang buhay ng nagpakamalang mabitay? Maibabalik ba ang buhay ng binaril na mistaken identity?”
(What if, after being executed, it is found that another person committed the crime? Just say sorry? Is that so? Oh, we made a mistake? Can we bring back the life of one mistakenly executed? Can we bring back the life of one who was shot on a mistaken identity?)