Capital punishment is not the answer—bishops


MANILA, May 20, 2008—It was a call that caught the Roman Catholic Church’s serious concern.

Administration Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s proposal to revive the death penalty in the wake of Friday’s bloody bank robbery in Laguna got off to a rough start.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, as expected, is not impressed with the lawmaker’s proposal and instead ignited strong reactions.

The bishops said the death penalty feeds frenzy for revenge, which neither ennobles the victims of crimes nor solve the country’s problem with criminality.

The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, headed by Bishop Pedro Arigo, is the vanguard of the opposition to death penalty in nearly all cases, and prelates have been equally vocal about the subject.

Within the boundaries of Arigo’s Commission lies the promotion of the total development of the members of the prison society often regarded as undeserving of concern protection.

The bishop too has been involved in a whirlwind of vigils and community meetings seeking for the abolition of the capital punishment.

Arigo said that the death penalty is nothing but a “cosmetic solution” that will give “an illusion that we are doing something about crime.”

He said the killing in Laguna that prompted Zubiri to call for the restoration of death penalty is condemnable.

However, he also said, the killing of the convicts will not really address the root as well as the immediate cause of crime.

“It is an easy way out addressing the complex and pervasive problems of criminality. Killing people is never the answer,” he said.

“We appeal to Senator Zubiri to stop giving us false hopes that we will be safe and secure by putting people to death,” Arigo added.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said the revival of the capital punishment is nothing but “a step backward” for a country already “progressing.”

“Death penalty is not a solution. There are many detainees in the maximum security facility, including those facing the death penalty, but we still do not see improvements in our society,” he said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

“One solution lay with the family, with the emphasis on the value and the sacredness of life among its members,” said Aniceto.

The Pampanga archbishop also reiterated the Church’s position that only God can take away what he gave to man via a natural death.

At least 10 persons were killed when still unidentified men robbed the Rizal Commercial Bank Corporation in Cabuyao, Laguna Friday morning.

The incident immediately drew condemnation from various Church and government officials with Zubiri calling for the revival of the death penalty law.

Two days after, eight people, including five children died after gunmen opened fire at four homes in Calamba, Laguna.

San Pablo (Laguna) Bishop Leo Drona described the incidents as the work of criminals “worse than animals.”

Drona called on the authorities to speed up its investigation and ensure justice is committed for the victims and their families.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad echoed the same sentiment, saying that the immediate resolution of the case if the best remedy.

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, for his part, tagged the Zubiri’s proposal as “anti-life and anti-love.”

The death penalty law was last abolished on June 24, 2006 by President Arroyo to serve as her gift to Pope Benedict XVI, whom she was to visit the very next day.

It was on June 24, 2006 when President Gloria Arroyo signed in a law abolishing the death penalty.

As a result the sentences of the 1,200 inmates on death row were commuted to life imprisonment. (Roy Lagarde) (CBCPNews)

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