CATHOLIC bishops are open to a dialogue with lawmakers over a proposed measure seeking the reimposition of the death penalty.
The Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) made the call as the House of Representatives’ Committee on Justice resumed its hearing on the proposed legislation.
“We at the ECPPC are ready to dialogue with our legislators to explore with them ways and means to improve our criminal justice system and our ways of treating persons deprived of liberty (PDLs),” they said in a statement.
The bishops warned that the country’s “imperfect” justice system may lead to the conviction of the wrong person, who are usually poor and marginalized, even as they maintained that the death penalty is immoral,
“Experience shows that most, if not all persons meted the death penalty are the poor and uneducated, who cannot afford prominent lawyers to defend them,” they said.
The prelates proposed that the government should instead push for measures aimed at reforming the judicial and correctional systems “to make them more restorative and rehabilitative, rather than punitive”.
The House committee on justice started debates on the death penalty on August 5, a week after President Rodrigo Duterte again asked lawmakers to reinstate capital punishment for drug-related crimes.
Earlier, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expressed confidence that life will eventually triumph over death.
Former CBCP president and now Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the reimposition of the death penalty is tantamount to granting a “license to kill” to authorities.
The CBCP also called on the faithful and all Filipinos who stand for life to continue the spirited opposition to the death penalty.
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.
It was again abolished in 2006 by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.