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Philippines

Church official warns lawmakers over Duterte's death penalty bid

Philippine senators urged to act for people and not vote for capital punishment just to please president

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

Updated: July 24, 2019 06:50 AM GMT
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Church official warns lawmakers over Duterte's death penalty bid

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls on legislators to pass a law that will reinstate capital punishment for heinous crimes, including plunder, during his State of the Nation address on July 22. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

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A senior church official has called on Philippine legislators to work for the welfare of the people and not blindly follow what President Rodrigo Duterte wants, which is to bring back the death penalty.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, urged members of Congress "not to pass measures just to please the president."

The call was made after the president said during his during his State of the Nation address on July 22 that he wanted capital punishment reinstated.

Duterte appealed to Congress to reinstate the death penalty for "heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder."

Diamante 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," added Diamante.

The church official 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.

Duterte has asked Congress to reinstate the death penalty for "heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder."

The reimposition of the death penalty was the first priority legislative measure he mentioned in his fourth State of the Nation address.

The president highlighted how illegal drugs kept by terrorists had led to the attack on May 23, 2017, that resulted in a five-month siege in the southern city of Marawi.

"It pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists," said Duterte.

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.

Philippine church leaders have repeatedly warned against any moves to pass a law that will revive capital punishment.

The death penalty was abolished under the 1986 constitution, but the charter gave Congress the power to reinstate it for heinous crimes.

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