On June 24, 2006, then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law abolishing the decade-long death penalty in the Philippines. While her decision received mixed reactions from citizens, Arroyo earned the support and appreciation of the members of the Filipino Catholic community.
“This could be another very important, nice step to go on in showing that the culture of life is very alive and important in this country,” said Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the Vatican’s envoy to Manila at the time.
“We cannot speak about human rights when the death penalty is imposed,” the archbishop added. (Read: PH Church, Catholic Groups Decry Reimposition of Death Penalty)
Today, in commemoration of this historic moment that changed the lives of many Filipinos, the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECPPS) released a statement renewing the Church’s support for the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines.
Read the full text by Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, Chairman of the CBCP-ECPPC, below:
CBCP-ECPPC Statement on the 15th Anniversary of Death Penalty Abolition
The Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECPPC) joins the Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CADP) in the joyful celebration of the 15th year of the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines.
We at the CBCP-ECPPC maintain that no person is beyond reformation. Every person deserves a second chance in order to correct his/her wrongdoings.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis in his teachings, has constantly stressed that the taking away of life is inadmissible. Every person is valuable as he/she is created in the image and likeness of God.
Thus, we strongly and unequivocally oppose the move of the present Congress to restore the Death Penalty in our Justice system.
We maintain that the death penalty is violative of the inherent dignity of the human person. No person, no matter how evil he is perceived to be, is beyond redemption and reformation.
The death penalty will only mostly victimize the poor. Our past experiences show that most of those who were meted the death penalty were indigent and poor individuals, who simply could not afford quality legal representation to defend them before the courts.
Lastly, the death penalty 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.
Let us instead continue affirming our Option for Life, and clamor for the State to pass laws which will make our criminal justice system more restorative and not merely punitive.
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.
JOEL Z. BAYLON, D.D.
Bishop of Legazpi