MANILA - The Catholic Church's prison ministry is urging lawmakers to reject President Rodrigo Duterte's renewed plea to reinstate the death penalty.
Duterte, in his annual report to the nation on Monday, urged lawmakers to approve capital punishment for high-level drug trafficking and plunder, saying that the narcotics problem would not be solved unless corruption is addressed.
Death penalty is not a deterrent to crime and is anti-poor, said Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care.
“They (lawmakers) have been elected by the people to work for their welfare, not the President’s," Diamente was quoted as saying in an article by Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News.
"Don’t give our people an illusion and a quick fix ‘solution’ to our problems. They deserve something better,” he added.
The death penalty bill faced strong opposition from senators of the previous 17th Congress. The House of Representatives passed the proposed measure, but later withdrew its approval.
Under the 18th Congress dominated by Duterte's allies, the death penalty can muster enough votes to get passed in the Senate, said its leader, Sen. Vicente Sotto III.
Duterte has been hoping to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines, where nearly 80 percent of its population is made up of Catholics, as he wages his war on illegal drugs and pursues an anti-crime campaign.
Duterte’s candidates dominated May's midterm elections, which could make it easier for the administration to pass bills with more support from the Senate.