FORMER Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz on Thursday reminded Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that he is not God and should stop acting like one.
Cruz made his point in response to the Speaker’s threat to punish lawmaker-members of the so-called super majority in the House of Representatives who would not toe the party line in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty law.
He questioned the removal of plunder from the list of heinous crimes that will be punishable by death even as he noted that the House chief has once been charged with the same crime.
In 2001, Alvarez, who was then Manila International Airport Authority senior assistant general manager, and several other officials were charged with plunder by the MIAA-NAIA Association of Service Contractors in connection with the allegedly anomalous awarding of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc.
(Piatco), now known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
The case, however, was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for lack of evidence.
“He is playing God. It appears that he has the power to order somebody not to kill while at the same time also possessing the authority to order who will be executed or not,” Cruz told the Church-run Radyo Veritas.
Cruz pointed out that when God wrote the 10 Commandments, he just said “Thou shall not kill” without qualifying this commandment in particular with “except or provide or until.”
Obviously, he said, Alvarez was simply complying with the directives of his immediate superior, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez earlier issued a stern warning against former president and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and party-members holding committee chairmanships and other positions in the chamber that they would be replaced if they opposed the proposed restoration of death penalty.
The bill restoring the death penalty is the subject of plenary deliberations.
It originally covers 21 “heinous” offenses such as treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, plunder and dangerous drug importation.
Executions may be carried out by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection.
Through the 1986 Constitution, the death penalty was abolished but it was restored in 1994 by then-President
Fidel Ramos with the enactment of Republic Act 7659 or the Death Penalty Law.
But it was again abolished in 2006 by the Arroyo administration.
According to the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, 124 out of 194 countries had abolished capital punishment in their penal system.