Church leaders speak out against return of death penalty

Filipino Catholics oppose proposals to revive capital punishment during a Walk for Life event in Manila (ucanews/Angie de Silva)

Church leaders in the Philippines have warned against any moves to pass a law that will revive the imposition of capital punishment. Source:

The Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care issued a statement this week reminding newly elected legislators of their responsibility “to defend human life”.

Moves to revive the death penalty failed in the last Congress, but Church leaders said recent statements made by new legislators on the re-imposition of the death penalty are “disturbing”.

“They have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” said Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the commission of the Philippine bishops’ conference.

“We argue that there are other more deeply-rooted reasons for a lack of peace and order in our society that leaders have failed to appreciate and acknowledge,” Mr Diamante said.

He said Church leaders maintain that capital punishment is “an affront to the human dignity of both those on whom it is inflicted and that in whose name it is employed.”

Mr Diamante appealed to legislators to resolve to live the “Gospel of Life fully and faithfully”.

Political leaders, however, expressed optimism that the death penalty will make a comeback in the next Congress.

“In the new Senate, there’s a possibility of 13 [votes for the death penalty] for high-level drug trafficking alone,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto in a statement.

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in Congress have consistently pressed for the reinstatement of capital punishment.

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, however, said the solution in fighting criminality should be done through legislation and judicial reform.

“In these times where great powers are concentrated on a single human being who with mere words — God forbid — can masterfully orchestrate a holocaust, we should be ever vigilant, ever firm with our stand against its re-imposition,” the legislator said.

Senator de Lima’s statement was read as Church leaders marked the 13th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines last week.

“In a country where the poor outnumber the wealthy by a mile, socio-economic realities have skewed the implementation of the law on death penalty against the former,” she said.


Philippine Church leaders wary of return of death penalty (

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