Instead of pushing legislation such as the reimposition of the death penalty, the Philippine Catholic Church is calling for concrete measures on how the country and its people can survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, the country already has enough fatalities because of the government’s drug war and COVID-19. (Read: Bishop Urges Government Leaders to ‘Talk Less, Listen More’)
“When many of us are concerned about living, we heard somebody push for the passing of the death penalty—as if the deaths caused by the virus, by tokhang, and the many unsolved killings in the country are not enough,” Bishop Cortes said during a Mass on August 4.
Dialogue, Not Death
The Catholic Church has always opposed the reimposition of the death penalty in the country. In a statement, the Filipino bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) said that the country’s imperfect justice system may lead to wrongful convictions.
Pls read: CBCP-ECPPC Statement Against the Re-imposition of the Death PenaltyPosted by CBCP-COMMISSION ON PRISON PASTORAL CARE (CBCP-ECPPC) on Monday, August 10, 2020
“We at the ECPPC are ready to dialogue with our legislators to explore with them ways and means to improve our criminal justice and our ways of treating persons deprived of liberty (PDLs),” they said. (Read: Church Leaders Unite To Take Stand Against Anti-Terrorism Law)
Instead of reviving the death penalty, the prelates asked the government to craft laws and implement the existing ones aimed at reforming the judicial and correctional systems to make the justice system more rehabilitative.
“We see such acts as a betrayal of the people’s interests and implicit support to the creeping authoritarian tendencies exuded by this administration,” they added.
The Council of the Laity of the Philippines stressed that the death penalty is not necessary and this is not the time to wear “blinders”. (Read: Did the CBCP Violate the Separation of Church and State in Pastoral Letter?)
“We urge you to remove the blinders that prevent you from seeing that death penalty is an offense ‘against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person,’” said Laiko President Rouquel Ponte.
According to Ponte, the reimposition will single out the most vulnerable sectors who have no means to defend themselves. He also warned the country’s failure to honor its commitment with the international community to not bring back the death penalty “will not only put us in bad light but lose their respect as well.” (Read: The World’s Reactions to Duterte’s Anti-Terror Law)
Instead of directing their attention to efforts to revive the death penalty, Ponte called on the lawmakers to focus on how to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.