President Benigno Aquino III speaks with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III
has ruled out reintroducing the death penalty, despite calls to do so by various groups following a series of recent killings. “I used to support the death penalty. But I’ve seen for myself that the implementation of justice is not perfect, so I have changed my position,” the president said. Aquino said capital punishment can only be applied if a judicial system is perfect and flawless. Capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines in 2006. Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr.
also spoke out against the reintroduction of capital punishment. Authorities should focus on effective law enforcement to address rising crime instead of considering the re-imposition of capital punishment, he said. “Death is not the answer,” the bishop who heads the public affairs department of the Catholic bishops’ conference emphasized. Calls for the return of the death penalty have increased following the recent murders of two car dealers. The Catholic Church in the Philippines is strongly opposed to the death penalty, saying criminals should have the chance to reform and repent. “The penal system should aim not just to punish but to correct. The guilty should have the chance to reform and repent. Executing them won’t give them that chance,” Bishop Iñiguez said. The bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care
, meanwhile, said “only poor people would be penalized” by death if the country’s present justice system stays as it is. “It’s time authorities look at the problem of enforcing the law instead of looking at the death penalty ... Those pushing for this want a quick-fix solution [to the problem],” said Rodolfo Diamante, executive director of the commission. Related reports Death row inmate ‘needs a second chance’ Top priest slams death penalty proposal