A leader of the Catholic Church said it would be shameful for the country to restore the death penalty while the Philippines prepares to mark 500 years of Catholicism.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the Church is in the midst of preparations for the 500th anniversary of the first mass in the country held on March 31, 1521.
Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) hopes that Catholics will oppose the restoration of capital punishment because it is contrary to their faith.
He, however, rejected suggestions that Church leaders are lobbying Congress against the restoration of the death penatly.
"Church leaders are not Congress lobbyists, that is not our duty," Villegas said in a forum.
"Our duty is to disturb consciences. At the end of the day I hope the Speaker (of the House) will allow a conscience vote on the death penalty," he added. The restoration of capital punishment is a priority of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Villegas also called on Catholics to join the "Walk for Life" event organized by Church lay leaders which will be held on February 18. The march is meant to speak out against extra-judicial killings and the restoration of the death penalty.
NO FIGHT WITH DUTERTE ADMINISTRATION
Villegas also sought to downplay suggestions that Church leaders are leading a confrontation with the Duterte administration. He said that the Church is always open to "critical collaboration" with the government.
He said that while they may be critical of some of the policies of the administration, Church leaders are also looking at the positive things that the government is doing like fighting corruption and reaching out to the poor.
Villegas also said he saw no need for another Jaime Cardinal Sin to lead the Church. Cardinal Sin, who died in 2005, led the People Power uprising which toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Villegas said Sin lived in a different time.
Villegas, who was considered a protege of the late cardinal, said it would be unfair for today's Church leaders to be expected to become another Cardinal Sin.