MANILA - A Roman Catholic bishop contradicted Sen. Manny Pacquiao's declaration that the capital punishment is allowed by God.
In an interview with Radio Veritas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that Jesus Christ, who was condemned to death by the Roman Empire, preached for mercy, not "eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth."
The prelate also explained that not every passage in the Bible is followed literally.
"Hindi lahat ng nakalagay na Bible verse na nakalagay sa Bible ay ginagawa natin. Hindi na tayo nag-aalay ng mga baka, ng mga tupa na nakalagay sa Bible," Pabillo said.
(We do not follow everything that is stated in the Bible. We no longer sacrifice cows, sheep which were stated in the Bible.)
In his first privilege speech as a senator, Pacquiao, a former Catholic who converted to evangelical Christianity, cited numerous Bible passages to justify his support for the death penalty.
''Having read the bible on a regular basis, I'm convinced that God is not just a God of mercy, but he is also a God of justice," the neophyte senator said.
But the bishop said that Christ's central teaching has always been about forgiveness and renewal.
"Dapat patawarin natin; ipagdasal natin ang mga kaaway natin. Iba na ang katuruan ni Hesus. Tandaan natin si Hesus ay naging biktima ng death penalty, naging biktima siya at ang humatol sa kanya ay gobyerno," the bishop added.
(We should forgive; pray for our enemies. Jesus has different teachings. Remember that Jesus is also a victim of the death penalty. He was a victim and he was condemned by the government.)
Instead of pushing for the revival of the capital punishment, Pabillo suggested that the country's legal system must be reformed.
He said the possible resurrection of death penalty will only victimize the poor.
The prelate also reminded the fighting senator of his previous call to the Indonesian government to spare overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso, a convicted drug trafficker, from capital punishment.
"Siya pa mismo ang bumisita, siya mismo ang nanawagan sa president ng Indonesia na hindi papatayin si Mary Jane Veloso," Pabillo said.
"Ano na ang ascendancy natin sa mga Pilipinong bibitayin sa Saudi Arabia, China na makiusap sa kanila na tayo mismo ay pumapatay din."
(He personally visited Mary Jane Veloso. He called on the Indonesian president to spare her. What will happen to our moral ascendancy to plead for the lives of Filipinos who are in death rows in Saudi Arabia and China if we ourselves also allow death penalty?)
The death penalty was abolished on June 24, 2006 by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in what was perceived as her gift when she visited Pope Benedict XVI, now a retired pontiff.
Since the campaign period, President Rodrigo Duterte has been advocating for the revival of capital punishment in the country.