Death penalty not proven to stop crimes, Filipino bishops tell Duterte

<i>Photo: Tamara Gore/ Unsplash </i>
Photo: Tamara Gore/ Unsplash

The death penalty has not been proven to prevent people from committing crimes, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said today, shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte talked about bringing back capital punishment in his fifth State of the Nation Address yesterday.

“The Church has always maintained that capital punishment, in whatever form it comes, is never a deterrent to crime. Studies have proven this time and again,” Bishop Joey Baylon of Aklan, who heads CBCP’s Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said in a statement.

He added that the government should instead focus on reforming criminals.

“With the death penalty, justice is nothing but punishment, and never a way to reform the offender. But true justice is restorative, never punitive,” the Bishop said.

Read: Filipino religious leaders file 18th petition against Duterte’s Anti-Terror Act

Duterte said in his speech yesterday that the death penalty has to be reimposed because it would supposedly deter criminals as well as save children “from the dangers posed by illegal and dangerous drugs.” The president said this despite leading a bloody drug war that has killed thousands of Filipinos, including teenagers and children.

Meanwhile, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga added in the same CBCP statement that reimposing the death penalty in the country will make it harder for the government to save overseas-based Filipinos from the death row.

“With death penalty we lose moral authority and credibility to beg for life, to save lives of our imprisoned overseas Filipino workers,” Santos said.

Prior to the release of the CBCP’s statement, the religious organization’s spokesman Father Jerome Secillano yesterday told GMA News that it continues to reject capital punishment and is urging senators and congressmen to hold a public consultation to find out where Filipinos stand on the issue.

Secillano appealed for reform in the justice system, and to prosecute criminals fairly and “without favor.”

The Philippines is the first Asian country to abolish the death penalty, which was approved by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 24, 2006. Arroyo abolished capital punishment because she said she wanted to listen to “high moral imperatives dictated by God.”

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