CBCP on death penalty: No person is beyond redemption

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2017 12:44 AM

MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines once again vowed to oppose the government's move to legalize the capital punishment.

In a statement released on Monday, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he and his fellow bishops regret that there are efforts to restore the death penalty after it was abolished 10 years ago. 

"Though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we have no right ever giving up on any person," Villegas said. 

For the country's Catholic bishops, reimposing capital punishment will strip the government of its authority to condemn violence and murder. 

"When we condemn violence, we cannot ourselves be its perpetrators, and when we decry murder, we cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process," the prelate added. 

Villegas also reminded the government that it is legally bound not to restore the capital punishment, being one of the the countries that ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

Reinstating the death penalty was one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte, a move which he believes would curb criminality in the country. 

The Cory Aquino administration abolished death penalty after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. 

Capital punishment was restored for "heinous crimes" during the Ramos government, and it was carried out by the Estrada administration starting in 1999 with the execution of Leo Echegaray in 1999. This was followed by a long moratorium, and in 2006, the Arroyo government abolished the death penalty. 

Under some of the bills filed before the Congress, death penalty will be imposed on certain heinous crimes such as murder, parricide, carnapping and drug-related crimes. 

The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been a prime force in opposing the death penalty, citing the Church's position of upholding the sanctity of life. 

Pope Francis, in his message at the world conference against the death penalty in Norway last year, called for a world "free of death penalty", arguing that the practice brings no justice to the victims and merely fosters vengeance.