The head of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the bishops’ conference renewed calls to oppose moves to revive the death penalty in the country.
“It is never right to kill people, even if it is done by the State,” said Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, chairman of the commission.
“Justice is never punitive nor vindictive, otherwise we go back to the ancient principle of ‘lex talionis,’ an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, which is no longer accepted,” he said.
The prelate said there are other ways to make people responsible and accountable for the wrong they have done.
“Bringing back the death penalty merely justifies the idea that it’s okay to kill people,” he said, adding that capital punishment is never a deterrent to crime.
“The death penalty does not solve the problem. Pope Francis himself has declared that it is ‘inadmissible,’” said Bishop Baylon.
In his recent encyclical titled “Fratelli Tutti,” the Holy Father rejected capital punishment as a “false answer that ultimatly does no more than introduce new elements of destruction in the fabric of national and global society.”
Several legislators have called for the revival of capital punishment following the killing of Sonia Gregorio and her son, Frank, in Tarlac province on Sunday. The legislators said policemen who kill unarmed civilians “deserve the death penalty.”
Bills seeking the reinstitution of the death penalty are pending at the committee level of both Houses of Congress.
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.