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Lawmakers hit for rushing talks on death penalty

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:38 AM August 07, 2020

The ease with which lawmakers responded to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the reimposition of the death penalty is alarming and disturbing, according to the Archdiocese of Manila.

In a statement dated Aug. 4, the Manila clergy said that while they agreed that it was the duty of legislators to enact laws and state policies, “we condemn the lack of independence and imprudence of some of them who decided to immediately bow to the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte.”

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“We see such acts as betrayal of the people’s interests and an implicit support to the creeping authoritarian tendencies exuded by this administration,” they said. The House committee on justice on Wednesday began tackling bills pushing for the revival of the death penalty for some heinous crimes even as the country struggles against the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The House panel started debates on 12 bills on the highly controversial measure less than two weeks after Duterte once again asked Congress to reimpose capital punishment through lethal injection for drug-related crimes in his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 27.

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The Catholic Church is one of the strongest voices against the death penalty.

The archdiocese said that while it agreed that crime deserved punishment and that the State had authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes, there were many reasons why it objected to the reimposition of capital punishment.

UN protocol

It noted that international law prohibits the Philippines from withdrawing its 2007 ratification of the United Nations Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims to abolish the death penalty.

“Doing so will weaken our moral and legal standing in other international bodies or treatises. Our assertion of victory in the West Philippine Sea will be the height of hypocrisy if we cannot even honor this commitment with the UN ICCPR,” the Manila priests said.

They added that the death penalty does not effectively deter crime.

“What deters crime is the certainty of conviction and the imposition of punishment. What the country needs, therefore, is a reform of the criminal justice system with the eradication of crooked, corrupt and unprincipled practices in law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and penal systems,” the priests said.

Likening it to the dreaded war on drugs, which victimizes mostly the poor, death penalty, they added, was “biased and unfair.”

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Legalized extermination

“[It] simply legalizes the extermination of the marginalized in the society,” the priests said, adding that it was also an unjustified form of retribution.

“We believe that only God has the right to take life away from us. Hence, we condemn criminals who took the lives of their victims and they must be punished for it,” they said.

But punishment, they stressed, should not anymore include death saying there are other means already available to punish criminals and to protect society from them.

The Manila clergy also cited the fallibility and imperfection of the country’s justice system as another reason why they do not want to revive the death penalty.

“As pastors, we recognize the heartache, distress, and anguish experienced by victims of violent crimes, and we deeply empathize with them. We want to help them in their search for justice. However, our support for victims and their families does not oblige us to push for the reimposition of the penalty of death,” the clergy said.

“Instead, we call the attention of our leaders and lawmakers to make every effort to establish a system of justice that brings restoration and harmony and not death,” they added.

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TAGS: Archdiocese of Manila, Capital Punishment, Death penalty, ICCPR, Legislation, Rodrigo Duterte, UN
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