Filipinos urged: ‘Oppose death penalty’ – Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Filipinos urged: ‘Oppose death penalty’ – Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (Photo: Br. John Francis Aberion, RCJ)

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.’

Work together

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) 

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Published on Dec 3, 2016

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Unite vs death penalty, CBCP urges Filipinos

THE influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday called on Filipinos to unite against moves to revive the death penalty, which President Rodrigo Duterte wants to use in his war against crime.

The CBCP president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbisbop Socrates Villegas, made the call a day after the House justice committee approved the bill restoring the death penalty for 21 “heinous crimes.”

 “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 in a statement posted at the CBCP website.

“This is a conscience call to stand up for life,” Villegas added.

He pointed out that the death penalty is self-contradictory because it espouses the same posture of violence condemned by the state.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, accused pro-death penalty congressmen of “trying to railroad” the passage of the death penalty measure, House Bill No. 1.

“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.”

With the bill’s passage at the committee level, the measure will be debated for second reading in the plenary.

Once the bill is approved on second reading, approval on third and final reading will only be a formality. The bill needs to go through the same process in the Senate.

The death penalty was abolished by the 1987 Constitution, only to be restored in 1994 by former President Fidel Ramos with the enactment of Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law.

It was again abolished in 2006 by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, 124 out of 194 countries have abolished the death penalty in their penal systems.

LP to oppose bill

Also on Thursday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said he and other members of the Liberal Party would oppose the bill, pointing to the country’s weak legal system.

“Our less than ideal justice system can result in someone being executed when he was in fact innocent,” Drilon told reporters.

“We are not convinced the re-imposition of death penalty is a deterrence to crime … it takes years before someone is charged or convicted. By that time the people have already forgotten that the crime was committed and therefore, the desired deterrence when you impose a penalty becomes no longer effective,” he said.

“That goes back to our position that there must be reforms in our justice system before we even consider the re-imposition of death penalty because of the possibility of errors being committed, and you cannot correct the error once it is committed,” he added.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, in a statement, said the approval of the bill was meant to please the President, even if there was “no evidence or a study showing that death penalty is an effective way to curb crime.”

Robredo noted that the Philippines is a signatory to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—a pact that prohibits countries from restoring death penalty.

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By: – Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 12:06 AM December 08, 2016

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. —PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Some Catholic bishops slammed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for apparently advising Filipino Catholics to convert to another religion should they be ostracized for supporting the reinstatement of the death penalty.

“This is a horrible advice, inspired by Satan!” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.

In a radio interview, Alvarez was asked if he would back President Duterte’s push for the reimposition of the death penalty when some Catholics reportedly were refused Communion when they supported the Reproductive Health Law.

 “[I’ll] just give up the Catholic religion! The important thing is one believes in God,” said Alvarez, the author of a bill that would impose the death penalty in cases of heinous crimes.

“If that’s what the Church does [refusing certain people Communion for supporting the RH law], one could just look for another religion,” Alvarez added.

He also reminded Church leaders of the separation of Church and State. He added that the Church should focus on social work.

On Wednesday, the justice committee of the House of Representatives passed  a measure reimposing the death penalty.

Bastes said that not only Catholics are against the death penalty, as “[a]ll persons whose mind has gone beyond the barbaric practice of death penalty in the past ages are violently against the death penalty.”

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CBCP on death penalty: ‘Life is not disposable’

MANILA, July 4, 2014 — Amid looming propositions for the restoration of capital punishment in the country, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday reiterated its stand on the sanctity of human life, saying “human life is not disposable.”

“Detestable as crime may be, there is no justification at all for the State, as the prime educator of civil society, to send the erroneous message that human life is sometimes dispensable and disposable,” the Conference stressed.

According to the statement, the death penalty is a “cruel and inhumane” act that only promotes societal violence.

Many inmates will be robbed of the chance for a renewed life if the death penalty is reinstated. (Photo: CBCP News)

“The CBCP must, with full voice, express its position for life and against death…Our posture cannot be otherwise. The Gospel we preach is a Gospel of Life, but the position we take is defensible even on non-religious grounds,” the bishops said.

The CBCP, in a statement signed by its president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said that justice could not be attained by seeking the vindication of a crime through executing offenders.
“A mature sense of justice steers as far as possible from retribution in the realization that visiting on an offender the same injury he inflicted on his victim makes matters no better at all for anyone,” it added.

Slamming the death penalty as “weak and retrogressive,” the bishops noted that the death of a human person does not contribute to the “restoration of broken relations and the ruptured social coherence that follow from the crime.”

“There is something terribly self-contradictory about the death penalty, for it is inflicted precisely in social retaliation to the violence unlawfully wielded by offenders,” they said, adding that carrying out capital punishment is tantamount to assuming the same “posture of violence” condemned by the state.

Aside from these, the CBCP also cited the possibility of “mistakes in evaluating and weighing evidence” in the judicial system, making it highly possible that an innocent individual dies for a crime he did not commit.

“The CBCP does not by any means intend to cast aspersions on the judiciary of our country and in fact calls on all our people to turn to the courts for the redress of grievances,” they said. “But the death penalty, once executed, is irreversible and no repentance or regret can ever make up for the horrible injustice of a person wrongfully executed.” (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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UN: PH will violate int’l pact if it restores death penalty

/ 07:24 PM December 08, 2016

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an open letter, has warned the Philippine government that it will violate an international agreement by restoring the death penalty.

Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed his “serious concern” through a letter, dated December 6 and addressed to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino “Kiko” Pimentel III.

The House of Representatives justice committee approved on Wednesday a draft measure on the reimposition of the death penalty. House leaders hope to pass the bill on final reading before Congress adjourns for the holidays next week.

READ: House committee OKs death penalty

Al Hussein pointed out that the Philippines passed Republic Act 9346 in 2006, abolishing capital punishment. It also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to abolish the death penalty.

“When a State ratifies the Second Option Protocol to ICCPR, it guarantees that no one can be executed within its jurisdiction,” he said.

“International law does not permit a State that has ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to denounce it or withdraw from it,” the commissioner added.

“The Philippines would violate its obligations under international human rights law if it reintroduced the death penalty, I appeal to you and all members of Congress to uphold the international human rights obligations of the Philippines and maintain the abolition of the death penalty,” Al Hussein said.

READ: Top UN exec assails Du30 anew on human rights

He said that there is no “denunciation clause” in the protocol “thereby guaranteeing the permanent non-reintroduction of the death penalty by States that ratified the Protocol.”

Al Hussein also said that the ICCPR, which the Philippines is a party to, only allows States with capital punishment to apply the death sentence for the most serious crimes.

“On various occasions, the Human Rights Committee has determined that drug-related offenses did not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes,’” he said.

He also said that the International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors State compliance with drug control treaties, “considers that the use of the death penalty for drug crimes is incompatible under international law.”

Innocent people killed

Al Hussein said that “decades of research” have proven that there is “no reliable evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime.”

“What we do know is that executions have led to the wrongful killing of many innocent people across the world,” he said. “The use of the death penalty leaves no room for human error, with the gravest of consequences.”

He pointed out that statistics also show that death penalty “disproportionately discriminates against the poor and most marginalized individuals and subsequently results in social injustice.”

Stronger rule of law, an effective justice system and a strong public health approach are most effective in addressing drug-related offenses, Al Hussein said.

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