CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Lawmakers warned about Duterte’s death penalty bid

MANILA (UCAN): In his July 22 State of the Nation Address (Sunday Examiner, July 28), the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said that he wanted capital punishment reinstated for “heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder.”
 
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, urged members of Congress to work for the welfare of the people and “not to pass measures just to please the president.”
 
He appealed to legislators to study whether the death penalty would solve the problem of illegal drugs. “We urge them to study this thoroughly and determine if it would really address the problems of drug trafficking and plunder,” he said.
 
“Don’t give our people an illusion and a quick fix ‘solution’ to our problems. They deserve something better,” Diamante added.
 
He said the death penalty has never been and will never be a solution to the problems of crime.
 
“It is anti-life, anti-poor and will only enhance the culture of violence and death that is now prevailing in our country,” he said.
 
The president claimed that illegal drugs kept by terrorists led to the attack on 23 May 2017 on Marawi, Mindanao, that resulted in a five-month siege.
 
“It pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists,” Duterte said.
 
Senators, however, were divided on the issue, especially after the president said he wanted to include plunder among crimes punishable by death.
 
“We’ll try to convince some of our colleagues. It’s a heavy debate. But we’ll just have to work on it,” said Senate president, Vicente Sotto.
 
Church leaders have repeatedly warned against any moves to pass a law that will revive capital punishment, which was abolished under the 1986 constitution, although the charter gave Congress the power to reinstate it for heinous crimes.

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