Archbishop Villegas leads protest vs death penalty restoration


Posted at Dec 13 2016 10:33 PM

Archbishop Villegas leads protest vs death penalty restoration 1
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas prays for lawmakers to junk the death penalty. Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News

‘Thou shall not kill’ pertains to the innocent and to the guilty'

DAGUPAN CITY - Catholic priests, students and devotees gathered on Monday night during a “Prayer Rally for Life” organized by the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to protest moves in Congress to restore the death penalty. 

Church bells rang for 15 minutes as around 3,500 people lit candles and prayed for the enlightenment of lawmakers to prevent the reinstatement of the death penalty, which was recently approved by the House committee on justice.

The archdiocese also launched a signature campaign to be circulated in all churches and submitted to the lower house.

The rally started with a Mass celebrated by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

In his homily, Villegas said the Catholic Church is one with the government’s fight against illegal drugs, corruption, terrorism and all forms of crime but insisted that these matters should not be dealt with through the death penalty.

“Sabi ni Pope Francis, ‘Thou shall not kill’ pertains to the innocent and to the guilty. Hindi ako ang may sabi nun…Ibig sabihin, huwag kang papatay may kasalanan o walang kasalanan,” Villegas said.

(Pope Francis said, ‘Thou shall not kill’ pertains to the innocent and to the guilty. I was not the one who said that…it means, you should not kill anyone whether or not they are guilty.)

A prayer rally was previously held in the province to stand up against supposed drug-related extrajudicial killings, and the burial for former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Villegas expressed hope that Congress will hear their plea.

“Nadelay ang voting nila, ‘di ba? Iyon ay isa sa mga tanda na nakikinig sila. Gusto nilang iboto bago mag-Pasko pero dinelay nila kasi nagsalita ang taumbayan. Ibig sabihin, with all due respect sa ating congressmen, nagpapasalamat tayo kasi nakikinig sila,” Villegas said.

(The voting was delayed, wasn’t it? It is one of the signs that they are listening. They wanted to vote before Christmas, but they delayed it because the people spoke up. This means, with all due respect to our congressmen, we are thankful they are listening.)

Other priests in the archdiocese supported the bishop’s statement.

“Hindi po pwedeng ituro ang pananampalataya na hindi namin itinuturo sa inyo ang tama at hindi namin pinoporma ang inyong konsensya upang huwag gawin ang mali,” Fr. Stephen Roque said.

(We cannot teach Cathecism without teaching you what is right, and without forming your conscience to avoid doing what is wrong.)

Carlo Palma, a youth attendee, said, “Napakahalagang malaman din nila ang magiging resulta nito lalong lalo na sa aming kabataan.”

(It is important for them to know what their decision will result to, and how it will affect the youth.)

Bing Diaz from the Coalition Against Death Penalty assured fellow protesters that they have spoken to lawmakers to urge them to vote against the death penalty’s restoration.