The bishops of the Philippines are once again voicing their “strong opposition” to the reintroduction of capital punishment in the nation. Source: Vatican News.
The death penalty was a legal punishment in the Philippines for much of the country’s history. After the fall of the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the 1980s, a moratorium on capital punishment was imposed, but executions resumed in 1999. The practice was outlawed in 2006.
President Rodrigo Duterte has campaigned for the restoration of the death penalty, and polls suggest many Filipinos support his position. Several bills have been revived in the Senate seeking to restore capital punishment.
In a statement issued last week by the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the bishops argue that “the death penalty violates the inherent dignity of a person, which is not lost despite the commission of a crime”.
The bishops cite Pope Francis, who has said “that capital punishment is an offence ‘against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God’s plan for man and society’ and ‘does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance’.”
In addition, the bishops point out that the death sentence is irrevocable, thus leaving no possibility for correcting errors that could occur in an imperfect justice system. For the same reason, it does not give the offender an opportunity to change.
Further, they argue that capital punishment is unfairly applied to “the most vulnerable sectors of society, the marginalised and the poor”.
Philippines bishops explain opposition to death penalty (Vatican News)