Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church in the Philippines will do everything possible to discourage political action likely to reintroduce the death penalty in the country. As Fides learns, the President of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said he will ask for a meeting with newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte to ask him to reconsider his plan to relaunch the death penalty. Duterte said he wanted to submit a measure to restore the death penalty, at least for the most serious crimes to the Philippine Congress.
Several Bishops have expressed strong reservations, recalling the Catholic doctrine, just reiterated by Pope Francis. The Archbishop of Lipa, Ramon Arguelles, recalled that capital punishment is not a deterrent towards crime, hoping that such a step "does not happen, especially while the Church celebrates the Year of Mercy". Even Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, Oscar Cruz, questioning the intentions of the President announced that "there the Church will oppose his plans", while the Bishop of Balanga, Ruperto Santos, recalled that "God alone has power over life. God gives life and God takes it away. No one should play God". Instead the Bishop suggests a "reform of the judicial and prison system".
Duterte has based much of his campaign on the theme of the fight against crime, law and end of impunity for perpetrators of crimes. The new president of the "Commission for Human Rights" of the Philippines, Jose Luis Guascon, recalled that the objective of the Philippine penal system is rehabilitative, while the death penalty closes this option. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/06/2016)