THE highly-influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has proposed to the Duterte administration the overhauling of the country’s criminal justice system amid moves by Congress to re-impose the death penalty.
The CBCP president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, made the appeal during a recent prayer rally in San Carlos City in Pangasinan, even as he reiterated that the death penalty is not a deterrent against crime but a stronger judicial system is.
The prelate pointed out that Congress’ move for the restoration of capital punishment in the country is a “lazy approach” at putting a stop to the commission of heinous crimes or any forms of criminal acts.
“Cleanse the police ranks! Fix all the courts! Tighten [the security]at the Bilibid and other prisons. Death penalty is a lazy form of penalty instead of helping reform those who made mistakes,” said Villegas in a statement posted at the CBCP website.
The prelate pointed out that the Church doesn’t take for granted the pain and agony felt by the victims and their families, but stressed that when a mistake is made and an innocent person is executed as punishment, such error can no longer be corrected.
“But the solution is not killing criminals. Our alternative is fullness of life for the guilty and the innocent. Fullness of life for the poor and the rich. Fullness of life for sinners and saints,” said Villegas.
“We are not protesting without a solution. We are protesting with an alternative. Reform the criminal justice system,” he further said.
“If there’s death penalty but the criminal justice system is corrupt, slow and one-sided, rapist and plunderer, and pusher and killer will remain confident [to commit crime]. It’s business as usual,” he further said.
The House Committee on Justice has recently approved a proposed measure seeking the restoration of capital punishment on all heinous crimes.
It maybe recalled that the through the 1986 Constitution, the death penalty was abolished but only to be restored in 1994 by former President Fidel Ramos with the enactment of Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law.
But it was again abolished in 2006 by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
According to the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, 124 out of 194 countries had abolished the death penalty in their penal system.
WILLLIAM B. DEPASUPIL