ucanews.com reporter, ManilaUpdated: August 12, 2016 10:50 AM GMT
Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, a pastor of a born-again Christian group, uses verses from the Bible to justify the death penalty. (Photo by Rob Reyes)
At least two Philippine Catholic bishops have criticized Filipino boxing great Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, for using the Bible to justify reviving the death penalty in the Philippines
"He should not use the Bible to justify his personal beliefs," said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kaloocan, adding that he respects the senator's right to express his opinion.
In a speech in the Senate, Pacquaio, a pastor of a born-again Christian group, quoted verses from the Bible to support his proposal to impose capital punishment for heinous crimes.
"Having read the Bible on a regular basis, I am convinced that God is not just a God of mercy, but he is also a God of justice," said the senator.
"Whoever hurts a person who died would also be killed," said Pacquiao quoting the Book of Exodus.
Bishop David said if people like Pacquiao would use the Bible as a justification for personal beliefs "we might as well restore slavery, misogyny, the death penalty for gays, and ancient inhumane laws."
"It is difficult to talk about the Bible to fundamentalists," said the bishop.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said "to promote the death penalty is an action of denial to Christ and to Christianity."
The Manila prelate recalled that in 2015 Pacquiao appealed for the life of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman on Indonesia's death row.
"Where is our moral ascendancy if we will impose capital punishment?" said Bishop Pabillo.
He described the proposal to revive capital punishment as "anachronistic" and "backward," adding that instead of advancing the culture of killings, Filipinos should "advocate for mercy and compassion."
"We must forgive and pray for our enemies. Let us remember that Christ was killed because his government sentenced him to death," he added.
Bishop Pabillo said the government should instead strengthen the judicial system and provide equal protection to all, especially the poor.
The Philippines placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 2001.
In 2006, the government commuted the sentences of 1,230 death-row inmates to life imprisonment in what Amnesty International described as the "largest ever commutation of death sentences."
Capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines in 2006.