CBCP condemns plan to revive death penalty

File photo by Alvin Joseph Kasiban

THE CATHOLIC Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has officially denounced the proposal to return capital punishment in the country, saying “no person is beyond redemption.”

“Though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we have no right ever giving up on any person,” the CBCP said in a declaration at the conclusion of its bi-annual plenary assembly last Jan. 30.

“We cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process,” said the statement, signed by CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

Plenary debates on the death penalty bill opened in Congress today, Jan. 31.

Villegas cited the public lament over the Jan. 25 execution of Jakatia Pawa, an overseas Filipino worker in Kuwait.

“The fact that Jakatia protested her innocence to the end of her life only underscores the abhorrence at the death penalty and the sadness that we feel at Jakatia’s death should make us all advocates against the death penalty,” Villegas said in a statement.

Be involved

In a pastoral letter issued Jan. 31, the CBCP also called on the public to actively participate in the plans overhaul the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

“We are today indeed experiencing change, but it is highly questionable whether this change is for the better or for the worse,” the statement, also signed by Villegas, said.

Villegas stressed that constitutional amendment should also involve the people, not just politicians.

He urged the faithful to protect the sovereignty of the people, the dignity of life, the family, human dignity and rights, democracy and the stand against death penalty, all enshrined in the constitution.

The CBCP president questioned calls to amend the constitution to make way for the President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed shift to a federal form of government.

“Do we need to change from our present unitary system to a federal system of government? Or will it suffice to introduce amendments and laws which will make the present unitary system responsive to the needs of disadvantaged regions?” he asked.

The prelate said the faithful’s active involvement in politics would be in preparation for a “Christ-centered society” in time for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country in 2021.

“Let us above all remember that no change in our constitution will help us if we do not have a change of heart, soul and behavior,” Villegas said.

In 1986, the CBCP issued a pastoral letter titled “A Covenant Towards Peace” supporting the ratification of the constitution, while recognizing its faults.


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