MANILA—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has appealed to court judges to follow the teaching of the Church and not to impose death penalty.
“We appeal to our Catholic judges to heed the teaching of the Church and to appreciate every possible attenuating or mitigating circumstance so as not to impose the death penalty,” said CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas in a statement entitled CBCP Ethical Guidelines on Proposals to Restore the Death Penalty.
Likewise, the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate urged them not to support the reimposition of capital punishment.
“We call on our Catholic jurists to study the issue and to oppose, through proper judicial proceedings, the re-introduction of capital punishment,” he said.
Villegas added, “It is time then to rid ourselves of the obsolescent notion that a person who commits a heinous wrong “forfeits his right to life”. No one can forfeit the right to life, because life is at the free disposal of none, not even of the State!”
The CBCP head also asked legislators not to vote for restoration of the the death penalty.
“We ask Catholic law-makers to withhold support from any attempt to restore the death penalty,” he said.
Villegas pointed out that the country has a legal obligation not to restore the capital punishment.
“This is an obligation in law that it took upon itself when our government ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Significantly, Article I of the Protocol cannot be clearer about our legal obligations:1. No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed. 2. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction,” he said.
The Catholic bishop added, “And there is nothing in the Protocol that would allow the Philippines to denounce the international agreement. In fact, it would not be in our best interests to do so, in light of the fact that in respect to other aspects of our national life, we take refuge and seek legal relief under the norms of international law and international agreements.”
He also cited the existence of a law that was passed 10 years ago that repealed the imposition of death penalty.
“Our position against the death penalty therefore rests not only on considerations of human dignity but has legal foundation. In the country’s legislature R.A. 9346, the act repealing the death penalty and granting universal commutation to life imprisonment and reclusion-perpetua (June 24, 2006),” the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate added.