Standing against the tide
They may not have the numbers, but what the Church and their followers in Metro Cebu lacked in numbers, they made up for with determination and solidarity with the thousands who attended the “Walk For Life” rally in Manila last Saturday.
“We are not afraid. Padayon ta. (Let us continue.) If God is with us, we are in the majority,” said Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, the vice president of the Council of the Laity in the Visayas, and the lead convenor of last Saturday’s “Walk for Life” in Cebu.
The Catholic Church, perhaps the leading opponent in the government’s campaign to revive the death penalty, isn’t only dealing with lawmakers under the super majority alliance of the Duterte administration.
It’s also dealing with online bashers, i.e, the loyalists of President Rodrigo Duterte who can be quite vicious, organized and relentless in tearing down any hint of opposition to their favored leader’s policies.
Last Saturday’s candle light rally in Cebu City didn’t carry the same numbers nor momentum like the Manila rally that was announced days before by the Catholic leadership there.
In downplaying and even denouncing the Church’s opposition to the death penalty, the Duterte fanatics and online bashers would have the Filipino public think that the only way to punish criminals, notably drug dealers and users whom they think are beyond rehabilitation, is through execution — for public viewing if they have their way.
They would chide opponents to the death penalty as being antiquated and out of touch with the current social reality of violence that is spiraling out of control in the outside world, and that the only way to deal with that violence is with death.
Proponents of the death penalty would probably reinforce their argument by localizing its context, pointing to Liezly “Savage Girl” Margallo who alleged aided in the murder of one girl as well as mutilated and exploited other minors in conspiracy with Australian Peter Scully as examples of the kind of criminals that don’t deserve mercy as examples.
We’re not even talking about the drug traffickers, rape suspects like Jonathan Marfe who was accused of molesting a four-month old baby, and the terrorists responsible for those suicide bombings — these death penalty advocates would so loudly declare.
But one need only look at the exclusion of government officials convicted of plunder in the new death penalty bill and the sloppy, often dangerously abusive work of law enforcement agencies and a question crops up: would the bill fulfill its role of being an effective deterrent against crime?
The debates will continue in earnest and opponents of the death penalty will have to maximize every resource and ally at their disposal to see to it that the bill, even amid its widespread support in Congress, will never come to pass.
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