HomeNews AlertPhilippine ecumenical group launches online petition against revival of death penalty

Philippine ecumenical group launches online petition against revival of death penalty

An ecumenical group launched on Friday, August, 21, an online petition to gather signatures to oppose the proposed reimposition of capital punishment in the Philippines.

The group “One Faith, One Nation, One Voice” declared its “absolute opposition” to the death penalty and called on the public to protect the sanctity of life.

“There is no higher view of humanity than this: that each human person is given the gift of life to share in the image and likeness of God,” read the petition.

The group said an “attack on any human person, the image of God, is an attack on God.”

“This is the faith we confess, and we oppose the death penalty because it is contrary to the Christian principles of respect for human life, mercy, forgiveness, and charity,” it added.

In an online forum on August 21, Catholic Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said “not even the State itself” can take life that is created by God.

The prelate stressed that the right of the State to impose punishment “is never absolute.” He said it is “relative and has limitations.”

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Bishop Baylon, who heads the commission on prison pastoral care of the Catholic bishops’ conference in the country, said every human being deserves a chance to repent and reform.

“No matter how great the crime of a person might have been, the person still deserves a second chance. God is a God of many chances. We just have to look into our personal life,” he said.

The prelate lambasted those who advocate the reinstatement of the death penalty, saying “retribution is wrong.”

“When we look at justice merely as a form of punishment, we suffer regression. We go back to the ‘eye for an eye’ concept of justice,” he said.

“If we use the concept of the ‘eye for an eye,’ how can we change the hearts of the sinners?” said Bishop Baylon.

He said many of those who were in the death row “would have a change of hearts” and “would be sorry for the things” he or she had done but were not given the chance.

The prelate said justice should “not be punitive but restorative,” adding that to restore the dignity of the person will give the person “a chance to reform.”

He urged the government to “correct the justice system” instead of pressing for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

He cited Pope Francis who said that there are many systems that allow the country to protect the community from criminals without the need for capital punishment.

Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group said the death penalty does not deter crime.

He reminded legislators that it is “not the severity of the crime that matters, it is the certainty of the punishment.”

Diokno claimed that more than 70 percent of those in death row before it was abolished in 2006 were poor who cannot afford the services of an independent counsel.

On June 24, 2006, the Philippines abolished capital punishment.

Months before the passage of the law that ended the imposition of the death penalty, former President Gloria Arroyo issued a moratorium on carrying out capital punishment.

In April 2006, the Philippines commuted the sentences of some 1,230 death row inmates to life imprisonment – the largest ever commutation of death sentences, according to Amnesty International.

In his State of the Nation Address in July, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to pass a bill that will reinstate the death penalty by lethal injection for drug-related crimes.

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