Press Statement on Death Penalty in the Philippines – Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Press Statement on Death Penalty in the Philippines – Archbishop Socrates Villegas

The House of Representatives has given its consent for the State to kill. We, your bishops, are overcome with grief but we are not defeated nor shall we be silenced. In the midst of Lent we prepare to celebrate the triumph of Life over Death, and while we grieve that the Lower House has voted for death, our faith assures us that Life will triumph.

We call on all Catholic faithful and all Filipinos who stand for life to continue the spirited opposition to death penalty. We urge Catholic lawyers, judges and jurists to allow the gentleness of the Gospel of Life to illumine their reading and application of the law, so that their service to society as teachers and agents of the law and of justice may bring life. It is indeed that we may have life to the full that the Lord came into our midst.

They may have won but it does not mean that they are right.

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

March 7, 2017

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Bishops ‘grieve’ House approval of kill bill

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President

MANILA– The Catholic bishops are ‘grieving’ over the approval by an overwhelming vote at the House of Representatives of a measure to revive the capital punishment.

Lawmakers voted 217-54 to resurrect the death penalty bill, which seeks to reimpose capital punishment for heinous drug-related crimes.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president, lamented that the lower House “has given its consent for the State to kill”.

“We, your bishops, are overcome with grief but we are not defeated nor shall we be silenced,” Villegas said.

“In the midst of Lent we prepare to celebrate the triumph of life over death, and while we grieve that the lower House has voted for death, our faith assures us that life will triumph,” he said.

At the same time, the archbishop called on the Filipinos who stand for life to continue the “spirited opposition” to the death penalty.

He made a particular call on the Catholic lawyers, judges and jurists “to allow the gentleness of the Gospel of Life to illumine their reading and application of the law”.

In doing so, he added, their service to society as teachers and agents of the law and of justice will bring life.

“It is indeed that we may have life to the full that the Lord came into our midst. They may have won but it does not mean that they are right,” said Villegas.

Mr. Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, lamented how the lawmakers “served their personal interests” instead of the common good.

“They are even willing to sacrifice their consciences and principles in pursuit of their interests,” he said.

“The problem indeed in our country is the lack of true servant leaders who will sacrifice their interests for the greater good,” said Diamante.

A similar measure is pending before the Senate.  CBCPNews

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LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill

(UPDATED) A total of 217 lawmakers voted in favor of the measure while 54 voted against it and 1 abstained
Published 9:14 PM, March 07, 2017
Updated 12:42 AM, March 08, 2017

FINAL VOTE. A total of 272 out of 293 members of the House of Representatives showed up on March 7, 2017, for the final reading of the bill reintroducing the death penalty. The yes vote won. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

FINAL VOTE. A total of 272 out of 293 members of the House of Representatives showed up on March 7, 2017, for the final reading of the bill reintroducing the death penalty. The yes vote won. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The House of Representatives passed on 3rd and final reading the bill that seeks the return of the death penalty on Tuesday, March 7.

A total of 217 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill Number 4727, while 54 voted against it and 1 abstained. A total of 257 out of 293 congressmen were present in the voting.

The bill seeks to allow judges to punish perpetrators of certain drug-related crimes with either life imprisonment or death. The bill allows the execution to be done either through hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

The district and party-list representatives were called alphabetically to voice their votes. After the bill was approved, they were allowed to explain their votes during plenary.

Here is a list of House members and their votes:

Voted YES to HB 4727

  1. Abayon, Harlin Neil (Aangat Tayo)
  2. Abu, Raneo (Batangas 2nd District)
  3. Abueg, Frederick (Palawan 2nd District)
  4. Acharon , Pedro Jr (South Cotabato 1st District)
  5. Acop, Romeo (Antipolo 2nd District)
  6. Acosta, Gil (Palawan 3rd District)
  7. Adiong, Ansaruddin AM (Lanao del Sur 1st District)
  8. Advincula, Alex (Cavite 3rd District)
  9. Agarao, Benjamin Jr (Laguna 4th District)
  10. Albano, Rodolfo III (Isabela 1st District)
  11. Almario, Joel (Davao Oriental 2nd District)
  12. Almonte, Jorge (Misamis Occidental 1st District)
  13. Alonte-Naguiat, Marlyn (Biñan City)
  14. Alvarez, Franz (Palawan 1st District)
  15. Alvarez, Mercedes (Negros Occidental 6th District)
  16. Alvarez, Pantaleon (Davao del Norte 1st District)
  17. Amante, Erlpe (Agusan del Norte 2nd District)
  18. Andaya, Rolando Jr (Camarines Sur 1st District)
  19. Angara-Castillo, Bellaflor (Aurora)
  20. Antonino-Nadres, Magnolio (Nueva Ecija 4th District)
  21. Aragones, Sol (Laguna 3rd District)
  22. Arbison, Abdulmunir (Sulu 2nd District)
  23. Arcillas-Nazareno, Arlene (Laguna 1st Distrct)
  24. Arenas, Rosemarie (Pangasinan 3rd District)
  25. Aumentado, Erico (Bohol 2nd District)
  26. Bagatsing, Cristal (Manila 5th District)
  27. Barzaga, Jennifer (Cavite 4th District)
  28. Bataoil, Leopoldo (Pangasinan 2nd District)
  29. Batocabe, Rodel (AKO Bicol)
  30. Bautista-Bandigan, Lorna (Davao Occidental)
  31. Belaro, Salvador Jr (1-Ang Edukasyon)
  32. Belmonte, Feliciano Jr (Quezon City 4th District)
  33. Belmonte, Ricardo Jr (Serbisyo sa Bayan Party)
  34. Benitez, Alfredo (Negros Occidental 3rd District)
  35. Bernos, Joseph (Abra)
  36. Bertiz, John (ACTS-OFW)
  37. Biazon, Ruffy (Muntinlupa)
  38. Biron, Ferjenel (Iloilo 4th District)
  39. Bondoc, Juan Pablo (Pampanga 4th District)
  40. Bravo, Anthony (COOP-NATCCO)
  41. Bulut-Begtang, Eleanor (Apayao)
  42. Cagas, Mercedes (Davao del Sur)
  43. Calderon, Peter John (Cebu 7th District)
  44. Calixto-Rubiano, Emi (Pasay City)
  45. Caminero, Wilfredo (Cebu 2nd District)
  46. Campos, Luis (Makati City 2nd District)
  47. Canama, Sabiniano (COOP-NATCCO)
  48. Cari, Jose Carlos (Leyte 5th District)
  49. Castelo, Winston, (Quezon City 2nd District)
  50. Castro, Fredenil (Capiz 2nd District)
  51. Catamco, Nancy (Cotabato 2nd District)
  52. Cayetano, Pia (Taguig 2nd District)
  53. Celeste, Jesus (Pangasinan 1st District)
  54. Cerafica, Arnel (Taguig-Pateros)
  55. Chipeco, Joaquin Jr (Laguna 2nd District)
  56. Co, Christopher (AKO Bicol)
  57. Cojuangco, Charlie (Tarlac 1st District)
  58. Collantes, Maria Theresa (Batangas 3rd District)
  59. Cortes, Jonas (Cebu 6th District)
  60. Cortuna, Julieta (A TEACHER)
  61. Cosalan, Ronald (Benguet)
  62. Crisologo, Vincent (Quezon City 1st District)
  63. Cua, Dakila (Quirino)
  64. Cuaresma, Luisa Lloren (Nueva Vizcaya)
  65. Cueva, Leo (Negros Occidental 2nd District)
  66. Dalipe, Manuel (Zamboanga City 2nd District)
  67. Dalog, Maximo (Mountain Province)
  68. De Venecia, Christopher (Pangasinan 4th District)
  69. De Vera, Eugene (Arts Business and Science Professionals)
  70. Defensor, Arthur Jr (Iloilo 3rd District)
  71. Del Rosario, Monsour (Makati 1st District)
  72. Deloso-Montalla, Cheryl (Zambales 2nd District)
  73. Dimaporo, Abdullah (Lanao del Norte 2nd District)
  74. Dimaporo, Mohamad Khalid (Lanao del Norte 1st District)
  75. Duavit, Michael John (Rizal 1st District)
  76. Durano VI, Ramon (Cebu 5th District)
  77. Dy, Napoleon (Isabela 3rd District)
  78. Enverga, Trina (Quezon 1st District)
  79. Eriguel, Sandra (La Union 2nd District)
  80. Ermita-Buhain, Eileen (Batangas 1st District)
  81. Espina, Rogelio (Biliran)
  82. Espinosa-Bravo, Maria Vida (Masbate 1st District)
  83. Estrella, Conrado III (Abono)
  84. Eusebio, Richard (Pasig City)
  85. Evardone, Ben (Eastern Samar)
  86. Fariñas, Rodolfo (Ilocos Norte 1st District)
  87. Ferrer, Luis IV (Cavite 6th District)
  88. Ferriol-Pascual, Abigail (KALINGA)
  89. Garcia, Gwendolyn (Cebu 3rd District)
  90. Garcia-Albano, Mylene (Davao City 2nd District)
  91. Garin, Oscar Jr (Iloilo 1st District)
  92. Garin, Sharon (AAMBIS-OWA)
  93. Gasataya, Greg (Bacolod)
  94. Gatchalian, Weslie (Valenzuela)
  95. Geron, Rico (AGAP)
  96. Go, Ana Cristina (Isabela 2nd District)
  97. Gonzaga, Ruwel Peter (Compostela Valley 2nd District)
  98. Gonzales Alexandria (Mandaluyong)
  99. Gonzales, Aurelio Jr (Pampanga 3rd District)
  100. Gonzalez, Fernando (Albay 3rd District)
  101. Gorriceta, Arcadio (Iloilo 2nd District)
  102. Gullas, Gerald Jr (Cebu 1st District)
  103. Hernandez, Ferdinand (South Cotabato 2nd District)
  104. Herrera-Dy, Bernadette (Bagong Henerasyon)
  105. Hofer, Dulce (Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District)
  106. Jalosjos, Seth (Zamboanga del Norte 1st District)
  107. Javier, Paolo (Antique)
  108. Kho, Elisa (Masbate 2nd District)
  109. Khonghun, Jeffrey (Zambales 1st District)
  110. Labadlabad, Glona (Zamboanga del Norte 2nd District)
  111. Lanete, Scott (Masbate 3rd District)
  112. Laogan, Dennis (Ang Kabuhayan)
  113. Lazatin, Carmelo II (Pampanga 1st District)
  114. Leachon, Doy (Oriental Mindoro 1st District)
  115. Lobregat, Celso (Zamboanga City 1st District)
  116. Lopez, Benhur Jr (YACAP)
  117. Lopez, Carlo (Manila 2nd District)
  118. Loyola, Roy (Cavite 5th District)
  119. Madrona, Emmanuel (Romblon)
  120. Malapitan, Dale (Caloocan City 1st District)
  121. Manalo, Jesulit (ANGKLA)
  122. Mangaoang, Allen Jesse (Kalinga)
  123. Mangudadatu, Zajid (Maguindanao)
  124. Mariño, Mario (Batangas 5th District)
  125. Marquez, Carlito (Aklan)
  126. Martinez, Eric (Valenzuela 2nd District)
  127. Matugas, Francisco Jose II (Surigao del Norte 1st District)
  128. Mercado, Roger (Southern Leyte)
  129. Mirasol, Alejandro (Negros Occidental 5th District)
  130. Montoro, Teodoro (AASENSO)
  131. Nava, Maria Lucille (Guimaras)
  132. Nieto, John Marvin (Manila 3rd District)
  133. Noel, Victoria (An Waray)
  134. Nograles, Jericho, (Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta)
  135. Nograles, Karlo (Davao City)
  136. Nuñez-Malanyaon, Corazon (Davao Oriental 1st District)
  137. Oaminal, Henry (Misamis Occidental 2nd District)
  138. Ocampo, Rosenda (Manila 6th District)
  139. Olivarez, Eric (Parañaque 1st District)
  140. Ong, Edwin (Northern Samar 2nd District)
  141. Ortega, Pablo (La Union 1st District)
  142. Ortega, Vini Nola (Abono)
  143. Pacquiao, Rogelio (Sarangani)
  144. Palma, Wilter II (Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District)
  145. Pancho, Gavini (Bulacan 2nd District)
  146. Panganiban, Jose Jr (ANAC-IP)
  147. Papandayan, Mauyag Jr (Lanao del Sur 2nd District)
  148. Pimentel, Johnny (Surigao del Sur 2nd District)
  149. Pineda, Enrico (1PACMAN)
  150. Plaza, Maria Valentina (Agusan del Sur 1st District)
  151. Plaza-Mellana, Evelyn (Agusan del Sur 2nd District)
  152. Primcias-Agabas, Marlyn (Pangasinan 6th District)
  153. Quimbo, Miro (Marikina City 2nd District)
  154. Radaza, Aileen (Lapu-Lapu City)
  155. Ramos, Deogracias Jr (Sorsogon 2nd District)
  156. Relampagos, Rene (Bohol 1st District)
  157. Revilla, Strike (Cavite 2nd District)
  158. Roa-Puno, Cristina (Antipolo 1st District)
  159. Robes, Florida (San Jose del Monte)
  160. Rodriguez, Isidro Jr (Rizal 2nd District)
  161. Rodriguez, Maximo Jr (Cagayan de Oro 2nd District)
  162. Roman, Geraldine (Bataan 1st District)
  163. Romualdo, Xavier Jesus (Camiguin)
  164. Roque, Rogelio (Bukidnon 4th District)
  165. Sacdalan, Jesus (Cotabato 1st District)
  166. Sagarbarria, (Negros Oriental 2nd District)
  167. Sahali, Ruby (Tawi-Tawi)
  168. Salceda, Joey (Albay 2nd District)
  169. Salimbangon, Benhur (Cebu 4th District)
  170. Salo, Ron (Kabayan)
  171. Sambar, Mark (Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta)
  172. Sandoval, Federico (Malabon)
  173. Sarmiento, Cesar (Catanduanes)
  174. Sarmiento, Edgar (Samar 1st District)
  175. Savellano, Deogracias Victor (Ilocos Sur 1st District)
  176. Sema, Bai Sandra (Maguindanao 1st District)
  177. Siao, Frederick (Iligan)
  178. Silverio, Lorna (Bulacan 3rd District)
  179. Suansing, Estrellita (Nueva Ecija 1st District)
  180. Suansing, Horacio Jr (Sultan Kudarat 2nd District)
  181. Suarez, Danilo (Quezon 3rd District)
  182. Sy-Alvarado, Jose Antonio (Bulacan 1st District)
  183. Tambunting, Gustavo (Parañaque 2nd District
  184. Tan, Angelina (Quezon 4th District)
  185. Tan, Milagrosa (Samar 2nd District)
  186. Tan, Shernee (KUSUG TAUSUG)
  187. Tejada, Jose (Cotabato 3rd District)
  188. Teves, Arnulfo (Negros Oriental 3rd District)
  189. Tiangco, Toby (Navotas)
  190. Ting, Randolph (Cagayan 3rd District)
  191. Tolentino, Abraham (Cavite 7th District)
  192. Torres-Gomez, Lucy (Leyte 4th District)
  193. Treñas, Jerry (Iloilo City)
  194. Tugna, Sherwin (CIBAC)
  195. Tupas, Raul (Iloilo 5th District)
  196. Ty, Arnel (LPGMA)
  197. Umali, Reynaldo (Oriental Mindoro 2nd District)
  198. Unabia, Peter (Misamis Oriental 1st District)
  199. Ungab, Alberto (Davao City 3rd District)
  200. Unico, Renato Jr (Camarines Norte 1st District)
  201. Uy, Juliette (Misamis Oriental 2nd District)
  202. Uy, Rolando (Cagayan de Oro 1st District)
  203. Uybarreta, Carlos (1-CARE)
  204. Vargas, Alfred (Quezon City 5th District)
  205. Velasco, Lord Allan (Marinduque)
  206. Velasco-Catera, (MATA)
  207. Veloso, Vicente (Leyte 3rd District)
  208. Villanueva, Noel (Tarlac 3rd District)
  209. Villaraza-Suarez, Anna Marie (ALONA)
  210. Villarica, Linabelle Ruth (Bulacan 4th District)
  211. Violago, Micaela (Nueva Ecija 2nd District)
  212. Yap, Arthur (Bohol 3rd District)
  213. Yap, Melecio (Negros Occidental 1st District)
  214. Yap, Victor (Tarlac 2nd District)
  215. Yu, Divina Grace (Zamboanga del Sur 1st District)
  216. Zamora, Maria Carmen (Compostela Valley 1st District)
  217. Zamora, Ronaldo (San Juan)

Voted NO to Hb 4727

  1. Abaya, Francis (Cavite, 1st District)
  2. Acosta-Alba, Maria Lourdes (Bukidnon, 1st District)
  3. Aggabao, Maria Lourdes (Isabela, 4th District)
  4. Alejano, Gary (Magdalo)
  5. Amatong, Isagani (Zamboanga del Norte 3rd District)
  6. Atienza Jr, Jose “Lito” (Buhay)
  7. Bag-ao, Kaka (Dinagat Islands)
  8. Baguilat, Teddy Jr (Ifugao)
  9. Banal, Jorge (Quezon City 3rd District)
  10. Belmonte, Jose Christopher (Quezon City 6th District)
  11. Billones, Emmanuel (Capiz 1st District)
  12. Bolilia, Lianda (Batangas 4th District)
  13. Bordado, Gabriel Jr (Camarines Sur 3rd District)
  14. Brosas, Arlene (Gabriela Women’s Party)
  15. Casilao, Ariel (Anakpawis)
  16. Castro, France (ACT Teachers)
  17. Chavez, Cecilia Leonila (Butil)
  18. Daza, Raul (Northern Samar 1st District)
  19. De Jesus, Emmi (Gabriela Women’s Party)
  20. Del Mar, Raul (Cebu City 1st District)
  21. Elago, Sarah (Kabataan)
  22. Erice, Edgar (Caloocan City 2nd District)
  23. Escudero, Evelina (Sorsogon 1st District)
  24. Ferrer, Juliet (Negros Occidental 4th District)
  25. Flores, Florencio Jr (Bukidnon 2nd District)
  26. Fortun, Lawrence (Agusan del Norte 1st District)
  27. Fortuno, Salvio (Camarines Sur 5th District)
  28. Garcia, Jose Enrique III (Bataan 2nd District)
  29. Go, Mark (Baguio City)
  30. Lacson, Virgilio (Manila Teachers)
  31. Lagman, Edcel (Albay 1st District)
  32. Limkaichong, Jocelyn (Negros Oriental 1st District)
  33. Lopez, Manuel (Manila 1st District)
  34. Macapagal-Arroyo, Gloria (Pampanga 2nd District)
  35. Maceda, Edward Vera (Manila 4th District)
  36. Marcoleta, Rodante (1-SAGIP)
  37. Marcos, Imelda (Ilocos Norte 2nd District)
  38. Mending, Makmod Jr (AMIN)
  39. Paduano, Joseph (Abang Lingkod)
  40. Panotes, Marisol (Camarines Norte 2nd District)
  41. Pichay, Prospero Jr (Surigao del Sur 1st District)
  42. Ramirez-Sato, Josephine (Occidental Mindoro)
  43. Rocamora, Ramon (Siquijor)
  44. Roque, Harry Jr (Kabayan)
  45. Salon, Orestes (AGRI)
  46. Santos-Recto, Vilma (Batangas, 6th District)
  47. Tinio, Antonio (ACT Teachers)
  48. Turabin-Hataman, Sitti (AMIN)
  49. Vargas-Alfonso, Baby Aline (Cagayan, 2nd District)
  50. Velarde, Mariano Michael Jr (Buhay)
  51. Vergara, Rosanna (Nueva Ecija, 3rd District)
  52. Villarin, Tom (Akbayan)
  53. Zarate, Carlos Isagani (Bayan Muna)
  54. Zubiri, Manuel (Bukidnon 3rd District)

Abstained from voting

  1. Abellanosa, Rodrigo (Cebu City 2nd District)


  1. Abad, Henedina (Batanes)
  2. Aglipay-Villar, Emmeline (DIWA)
  3. Alcala, Vicente (Quezon 2nd District)
  4. Antonio, Michelle (AGBIAG)
  5. Barbers, Robert Ace (Surigao del Norte 2nd District)
  6. Cuaresma, Luisa (Nueva Vizcaya)
  7. Cueva, Leo (Negros Occidental 2nd District)
  8. Enerio-Cerilles, Aurora (Zamboanga del Sur 2nd District)
  9. Espino, Amado Jr (Pangasinan 5th District)
  10. Fernando, Bayani (Marikina City 1st District)
  11. Floirendo, Antonio (Davao del Norte 2nd District)
  12. Fuentebella, Arnulfo (Camarins Sur 4th District)
  13. Garbin, Alfredo Jr (AKO Bicol)
  14. Lee, Delphine (AGRI)
  15. Mangudadatu, Suharto (Sultan Kudarat 1st District)
  16. Mendoza, Raymond (TUCP)
  17. Nolasco, Ramon (Cagayan 1st District)
  18. Ong, Henry (Leyte 2nd District)
  19. Romero, Michael (1PACMAN)
  20. Romualdez, Yedda (Leyte 1st District)
  21. Villafuerte, Luis Jr (Camarines Sur 2nd District)

After HB 4727’s approval on 3rd and final reading at the House, the measure will be transmitted to the Senate for another 3 readings. – Mara Cepeda/

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FULL TEXT: I resist idea that taxpayers will pay for executions – Belmonte

(UPDATED) Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte says he ‘cannot accept’ that the 17th Congress ‘would take blood in its own hands’
Published 7:10 AM, March 08, 2017
Updated 8:21 PM, March 08, 2017

VOTED NO. Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte explains his vote against the death penalty bill. Screengrab from

VOTED NO. Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte explains his vote against the death penalty bill. Screengrab from

The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading the death penalty bill on Tuesday, March 7 with a vote of 217-54-1.

Congressmen were given a chance to explain their votes before the plenary. Among them was Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, who voted against House Bill 4727.

Here is the full text of Belmonte’s speech as provided by his office.


Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, Mr Speaker, I would like read excerpts from a letter sent to me by one of my constituents from Barangay Culiat.

“Hon Belmonte, I am writing to you to express my support in your stand against the passing of the Death Penalty. Please hold strong and be steadfast in your argument. Admittedly, a lot of people in government right now are so myopic. Hence, I am absolutely grateful for those few who remain to have the foresight necessary for the genuine development of this nation.

“In behalf of your constituents who can see right through our crippled judiciary, thank you for representing us.

“In behalf of all those imprisoned for a fault they never committed, thank you for being against the imposition of the most cruel penalty.

“In behalf of those who are properly imprisoned most probably due to their circumstances – that of intense poverty, as if society can blame them for putting them under circumstances when they constructively lost their freedom of choice, thank you for acknowledging that the only way to lessen criminality is to provide jobs.”

Honorable Speaker, I have a very high respect for this institution. I cannot fathom the idea that our 17th Congress, with its foresight, would take blood in its own hands. I cannot accept the thought that we, the Members of the House of Representatives, will allow fellow human beings to be killed by our own government. Stripped of its nomenclature, imposing death penalty is allowing State-sponsored killings. A person killed by the State in its death chambers is blood on MY hands, it is blood on our hands. I refuse the idea that I allowed our government to kill in my name, in our name, Mr Speaker.

I am here as the representative of my constituents, mostly law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Approving the imposition of death penalty is putting an additional burden on the shoulders of our people. Taxpayers would pay for every death through hanging, lethal injection or firing squad. I resist the idea that my constituents would be made to pay taxes to maintain and operate our death chambers.

Mr Speaker, I stand firm in my personal conviction that what we are doing right now is an act of injustice. In the words of the philosopher Plato: “He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.”

Mr Speaker, I voted no during the deliberation of House Bill 4727 at the justice committee last December 7; I voted no on the bill’s 2nd reading last week. Today, I remain firm against the imposition of death penalty. I vote no. –

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God-Talk in Political Discourse

THERE has been a lot of reference to God lately in the speeches and statements of some politicians. The president, who is fond of cursing those who oppose him, injects religious language in his political discourse. He believes that his ascendancy to the presidency is God’s will. In a speech, he commented that those who are angry at him—especially for the killings in the so-called drug war—should vent their anger on God who placed him in power. In a campaign speech he said that he would be willing to go hell as long as the people he serves live in paradise. He claimed that God talked to him and told him to stop cursing or else the plane he was on would crash. He made a promise to stop cursing. Yet at another time, he referred to the eucharistic body of Christ as full of shit implying a contemptuous attitude towards a central dogma of the Catholic faith.

Another politician who is fond of religious discourse is Senator Manny Pacquiao who attaches his own interpretation of the bible to justify his position in favor of death penalty. Since Jesus himself was executed on orders by those in authority, the state can impose death penalty!

On the other hand, two former members of the Davao Death Squad implicated the former mayor of the city as the behind the extrajudicial killings. Matobato said that he decided to quit and confirm the existence of the DDS and involvement of the former mayor because he was bothered by his conscience. Lascanas also said the same thing and revealed that his public confession was a fulfillment of his promise to God. Both of them are willing to pay the price and even die as consequence of their testimony.

Church leaders and Catholic theologians have so far not engaged in such religious discourse except for some Protestant theologians who have come up with their theological reflections in support of the president and his policies—like many liberal theologians under the Third Reich.

Perhaps, theologians should come out from their comfort zones—the classroom and the library—to engage in religious-political discourse. We need to address questions about what kind of God is at work in the unfolding historical events. Some politicians are already engaged in God-talk justifying their positions—often at odds with the teachings of the Church.
We cannot remain silent. We should be more critical and challenge religious claims and interpretations of politicians that justify the culture of death and the abuse of power. We cannot remain silent as arrogant leaders claim that drug addicts and suspected criminals are not human and have no rights.

It is strange when those accused of being responsible for mass murder engage in “God-talk” and theologians have nothing to say. We also need to reflect how does God enter into the picture and whether God is capable of changing the hearts of hardened criminals and assassins, haunted by their conscience and finally undergoing conversion.
Today, political discourse is becoming theological and moral in character. This is no longer strictly politics. This is the competence of religious leaders and theologians.

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This thing called conscience

HE came out into the open because, in his words, “I want to clear my conscience…out of fear of God.”

The just-adjourned senate investigation of a retired police officer who, among others, admitted to have been a member of a death squad and to being a killer of hundreds, some on orders of then mayor and now president of the republic, was like a mirror. It reflects to us the wounded and divided conscience of the country. Partisan consciences of allies or the opposition clearly guided the way many questions were asked rather than the avowed purpose of ferreting out the truth. Critics of the administration pointed to how the retired policeman had acted against self-interest in confessing to his crimes, with apparently nothing to gain but a severe prison sentence or worse. Allies of the administration, on the other hand, quickly dismissed the testimony as a web of lies from a perjured, polluted source.

Where truth doth lie, we need to ask. Even if the administration’s critics have a point in citing the witness’ acting against self-interest in offering a tell-all confession, it was obvious he had received large amounts of cash for doing his role in the mass murders and cash not being behind his actions now seems dubious, to say the least. But, on the part of the administration and its allies, to say everything he said was a wholesale fabrication just because he has loopholes in his testimony, aside from having perjured himself in an earlier senate hearing out of obedience to a superior’s order and of fear for his family’s safety, should make us pause for caution. Why? Because there are limits to the legal means of arriving at the common good.

In addition, such dismissal may cost the country the truth or parts of it. For instance, does anyone with a fair and impartial mind simply dismiss as lies first-hand accounts of being ordered to “get rid” of certain perceived criminals or enemies? Should not this admission merit an independent, fair but determined investigation? And might not an international group be more competent to conduct it?

But let’s get back to conscience. Some non-Catholic senators reacted to the witness’ claim of “spiritual renewal” with the element of confessing to a Catholic priest. One indirectly criticized it by saying confession is to God alone. Another even chided the witness’ “spiritual renewal” for being “incomplete” because the police officer did not follow the Lord’s words, “Sin no more” by lying in his first testimony. Both senators pounced on the helpless retired cop because if, in their view, he had a real “encounter” with the Lord, he would not have sinned by lying under oath.

It turns out they did not read their Bibles well. Even Peter and the apostles who “encountered” Jesus much more deeply and intimately than anyone were also the first to fear for their safety and, per Gospel accounts, “lied” (Peter did it three times) though not under oath, that they did not know Jesus. All they need to do is consult Mt 26:69-79; Mk 14:66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:15-27 to find out if I am not making this up. If St Peter were to testify for Jesus Christ at the Philippine senate today, he would be dismissed as a “polluted”, “perjured” “source”.

To me everything boils down to the need for everyone, Filipinos and foreigners, political foes or allies, to have a well-formed conscience as his center of conduct. This is a long-standing teaching and exhortation of the Church. The phenomenon of the “callous conscience” behind the mass murders called EJKs and other forms of twisting and skirting the moral law makes the formation of consciences especially of those in power a “must”, an urgency.

Admittedly this is part and parcel of the Church’s exercise of her teaching and prophetic ministry.
But do we seriously look into whether or not we are doing it right (and effectively) as we must? Is the present crop of Filipino politicians and citizenry a product of a well-balanced formation of conscience?

Let us wonder, lest we wander.

Read the source:

Is Death Penalty allowed by the Church?

DELIBERATIONS in Congress about the death penalty have shifted to the moral and ethical implications of the measure. It has come to a point where the stand of the Church seemed paramount for its re-imposition. I’m afraid that pro-death penalty congressmen are simply looking for justification for their stand, making them guilt-free in the process. The underlying issue here is not what the Church stands for, but whether in these modern times and under our present circumstances death penalty is still warranted.

The history of the Catholic Church’s teaching on death penalty is long and complex and composed of many subtle nuances and not so subtle contradictions and conflicts. While there have been recent developments in position statements in the Church, they are also not without their disagreements and differences of interpretation, as well as underlying values.

Summarizing what the Scripture and tradition said of the death penalty, including that of the Council of Trent and the opinions of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, we can draw some established points of doctrine. It is agreed that crime deserves punishment in this life and not only in the next. In addition, it is agreed that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death.

But the real issue for Catholics is to determine the circumstances under which death penalty ought to be applied. Cardinal Avery Dulles said, “It is appropriate, I contend, when it is necessary to achieve the purposes of punishment and when it does not have disproportionate evil effects. I say ‘necessary’ because I am of the opinion that killing should be avoided if the purposes of punishment can be obtained by bloodless means”, e.g., imprisonment without parole.

In a careful discussion of this matter, Pius XII concluded that the State ought not to issue pardons except when it is morally certain that the ends of punishment have been achieved. Under these conditions, requirements of public policy may warrant a partial or full remission of punishment. If clemency were granted to all convicts, the nation’s prisons would be instantly emptied, but society would not be well served.

The Catholic magisterium in recent years has become increasingly vocal in opposing the practice of capital punishment. Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae declared that as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, “cases in which the execution of the offender would be absolutely necessary are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” Again at St. Louis in January 1999, the Pope appealed for a consensus to end the death penalty on the ground that it was “both cruel and unnecessary.” The bishops of many countries have spoken to the same effect.

In coming up with this prudential conclusion, the magisterium is not changing the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine remains: that the State, in principle, has the right to impose the death penalty on persons convicted of very serious crimes. But the classical tradition held that the State should not exercise this right when the evil effects outweigh the good effects. Thus the principle still leaves open the question whether and when the death penalty ought to be applied. The Pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good.

There is, first of all, a possibility that the convict may be innocent. John Stuart Mill, in his well-known defense of capital punishment, considers this to be the most serious objection. He cautions that the death penalty should not be imposed except in cases where the accused is tried by a trustworthy court and found guilty beyond all shadow of doubt.

The sentence of death, therefore, is unacceptable if it has serious negative effects on society, such as miscarriages of justice, the increase of vindictiveness, or disrespect for the value of innocent human life.

Under these circumstances, we better ask ourselves if we have it in our hearts to execute people despite our country’s flawed and imperfect criminal justice system, crooked law enforcement agencies, and corrupt justice personnel.

Remember, too, that poorly educated and penniless defendants often lack the means to procure competent legal counsel; witnesses can be suborned or can make honest mistakes about the facts of the case or the identities of persons; evidence can be fabricated or suppressed; and judges can be prejudiced or incompetent.

There is no doubt that legislating the measure is the duty of our congressmen. But the question is not just about whether the State can legally and morally do it or not, but whether the State can correct a wrong-doing by an intrinsically evil act or whether death penalty ought to be imposed at all!

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Fr. Ronaldo Quijano, Academic Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and the Family and Chairman of the Diocesan Commission on Family and Life, Bacolod, in his talk “Upholding the sacredness of human life and no to the re-imposition of the death penalty” in front of San Sebastian Cathedral, Bacolod, during the prayer rally for life on Dec. 12, 2016.

BACOLOD – After the overwhelming vote at the House of Representatives approving a measure to revive capital punishment, a priest reminded Catholics that authentic Christians are those who uphold the values of the Gospel of Life.

“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life… A sign of hope is the recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil,” said Fr. Ronaldo Quijano in his homily during a Mass in defense of human life held at the University of St. La Salle on March 8.

Landmark teaching of St. John Paul II

Citing a landmark teaching of a Pope of undisputed in wisdom and holiness, the Academic Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family said, “John Paul II, in his encyclical ‘The Gospel of Life’, pointed out that cases warranting the death penalty now are very rare if not practically non-existent.”

Putting into proper context the traditional Church doctrine of legitimate self-defense, which included the possibility of the imposition of capital punishment, Quijano said, “Modern society has the means of protecting itself. There is no reason of definitively denying criminals the chance to reform.”

Quijano recalled the insistent appeals of John Paul II, and of the succeeding popes, for “a consensus to end the death penalty which is both cruel and unnecessary”.

Hope, not vengeance

The priest revealed: “Pope Francis sent a message to the Sixth World Congress against Death Penalty in Oslo, Norway, in which he pointed out, ’Indeed, nowadays, death penalty is unacceptable; however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and His merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment… It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment ‘thou shall not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.’”

Quijano warned that the restoration of capital punishment could lead to a society that has lost its humanity.

“During the Jubilee Mass for Prisoners in 2016, Pope Francis called for a criminal justice system that gives hope – that is to improve the condition of life in the prison cells so that human dignity of detainees is fully respected, and that criminal justice should not exclusively be punitive but open to the prospect of reintegrating the convict in society.

“When we start thinking that a human being is not a person, created according to God’s image, then it is easy to depersonalize him. When we treat the person no longer as a person, then it’s easy to dispose of him,” he added. CBCPNews

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Students of San Beda College-Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte’s alma mater, hold a candle lighting protest in solidarity with several Catholic schools nationwide that staged simultaneous noise barrage against the extrajudicial killings and the death penalty, March 8, 2017. CBCPNews

MANILA– Catholic schools in Metro Manila have joined the outcry against the growing number of drug-related summary executions and impunity that has engulfed the country.

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines National Capital Region (CEAP NCR) also opposed the reimposition of the death penalty and irresponsible mining.

The organization of 171 schools, universities and colleges said that “all life is sacred because it is God’s own gift to each one of us, believing that we are not God, and that Earth was created by God that sustain us.”

“Fully convinced that though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we therefore have no right to give up on any person,” it stressed.

“We appeal to all Filipinos to stand with courage for social justice and equality, which are founded upon absolute respect for human life and dignity,” said CEAP-NCR.

The CEAP NCR agreed that the illegal drugs trade must be eradicated because it breeds corruption, crime and death especially among the poor, the unemployed and the youth.

They said, however, that the due process of law must always be observed in the anti-crime war.

As to the issue of mining, the organization condemned the operations that threaten people’s health and environmental safety “through the wanton dumping of wastes and tailings in the rivers and seas”.

The Catholic schools called on the government take pro-active actions against poverty in addressing the issues raised.

“We urge the present administration to address the root causes of the drug problem by the implementation of the programs that address poverty, create more jobs, strengthen the family, guide the youth, who are most affected during these difficult times, to wholesome recreation,” they said. CBCPNews

Read the source:


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In a letter (March 20,2015) to the International Commission against the Death Penalty, the Pope Francis says that today the death penalty is “inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person.” He adds that it “does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.”

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