One Voice Church leaders decry overtures for death penalty

Philippine ecumenical group One Faith, One Nation, One Voice earlier this year issued a declaration of opposition to death penalty signed by church people from various denominations.

On World Day Against the Death Penalty last October 10, 2020, the group came out with this statement against moves to reimpose death penalty in the Philippines:

On the World Day against Death Penalty, One Faith, One Nation, One Voice decries and joins the resistance to the rising tyranny and looming possibility of the reinstatement of death penalty in the country.

As believers in the sanctity of life, we oppose all moves by the Duterte administration to further a culture and climate of violence and death. President Duterte has devalued the basic tenets of democracy, human dignity, justice, and peace and instead has weaponized the law against the poor, marginalized, and political opposition. Widespread impunity and violations of human rights have surged throughout the country. Death Penalty will become a judicial tool of murder which will surely victimize the poor who have limited or no access to legal defense and judicial process.

With the thousands of deaths in the bloody ‘war on drugs’ and hundreds of slain activists and farmers, we lament the possibility of adding yet another way of killing our people, especially the poor and dispossessed. Experience has shown that criminality will not be resolved through the re-imposition of the death penalty. We must address and resolve the root causes of criminality and work for restorative justice that gives redress to the victims and provides rehabilitation to those who have committed criminal acts. We, therefore, oppose any move to bring back judicial killing, just as we oppose extra-judicial killings.

Especially, in this time of pandemic, government would do better to prioritize alleviation of economic hardships, provision of health and social services, and support of community initiatives to cope, recover and rebuild toward better lives, instead of a return to capital punishment. Social justice and respect for human and peoples’ rights will go farther in deterring crime and anti-social activity.

Furthermore, abuse by authorities and police personnel as well as corruption and scandal in government have eroded the people’s trust. Even more, justice is difficult to pursue with courts that are slow, cumbersome, and inept. The government should focus on cleaning up their operations, rather than pushing legislation that will kill its own citizens.

Most Revd. Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo, D.D.
Apostolic Administrator
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila

Bp. Emergencio Padillio
United Church of Christ in The Philippines

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