Palma: Death penalty is not a deterrent to crimes
Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma is saddened when he learned that the House committee on justice has approved on first reading the bill that aims to reinstate the death penalty in the country.
Palma said he never thought the legislators would again consider the reimposition of the death penalty after it was suspended years in 2006.
“We believe it is still a growth in society when people would respect life. Yes we have to punish crime, but death penalty is not the best deterrent to crime,” Palma told reporters in an interview at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday.
Palma, however, said he would not yet initiate any anti-death penalty action in Cebu and would instead wait for concrete plans from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“I am sure there will be statements of praying and opposing that. But that is all we can do, and we don’t have a police force to implement (our opposition to the death penalty). Ours is conviction of doctrine and belief (that abolishing the death penalty) this is (for the) betterment of society,” Palma said.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesman of the Cebu Archdiocese, said that writing an anti-death penalty pastoral letter has not been considered yet in the Archdiocese of Cebu.
“Since this is a national issue, we will wait for the CBCP’s statement and action,” Tan said.
Palma also believed that aside from Catholics, there are also other groups of people who are against the reimposition of the death penalty.
Right now, he said, all he could ask is for the faithful to continue to pray that the death penalty will not be reinstated.
“As we said, we are not the lawmakers. This is the dynamics in a democracy … There are people who are supposed to be guardians of the law and lawmakers,” Palma added.
Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, for his part, also asked for prayers to enlighten the legislators so that they will make the right decision.
Dr. Rene Bullecer, country director of the Human Life International, said in a text message that he found it “very unfortunate and irreconcilable to think that while majority of the countries have delegalized the death sentence, Philippines, which is predominantly Christian country, is moving back to the dark ages.”
“This will surely become a precedent for an array of anti-life laws to be swiftly pass particularly on abortion, destroying the extremes of God’s most precious creation, human life,” Bullecer added.
Some militant groups in Cebu also protested the move to reimpose the death penalty.
“Our justice system is in dire need of reforms. Bringing back death penalty from the dead only worsens our situation, with the government itself institutionalizing murder,” said Justine Balane, coordinator for Akbayan Youth Cebu.
“Akbayan Youth Cebu believes that death penalty is a disservice to our values as a Filipino people. It is anti-poor and it is not proven to reduce the crime rate,” Balane added.
Niño Olayvar, vice president for Anakbayan-Visayas, also believed that bringing back the death penalty is not a deterrent to crimes or a means to service justice.
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