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Phillippine bishops warn against renewed calls for death penalty

Capital punishment 'sends erroneous message' that life is disposable, they say
Phillippine bishops warn against renewed calls for death penalty
Published: July 02, 2014 09:01 AM GMT
Updated: July 01, 2014 10:14 PM GMT

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday issued a statement warning against renewed calls for the revival of the death penalty following reports of an increase in criminal incidents. 

"Detestable as crime may be, there is no justification at all for the state ... to send the erroneous message that human life is sometimes dispensable and disposable," said the bishops' statement, signed by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, conference president.

The statement came after various anti-crime groups called for the revival of the death penalty following a spate of killings and the death of a college student during a fraternity initiation.

The anti-crime group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption called for drastic reforms in the country's criminal justice system, including harsher penalties for anti-hazing law violators.

Authorities are still looking for the suspects in the killing of Guillo Cesar Servando, 18, a student of the College of Saint Benilde who died during a fraternity’s hazing rites in Manila on June 28.

The prelates maintained that crime deterrence does not lie in the severity of the penalty "but in the certainty that offenders are held to answer for their crimes and the guilty are punished".

"Our posture cannot be otherwise. The Gospel we preach is a Gospel of life, but the position we take is defensible even on nonreligious grounds," the statement said.

"Executing a human person does not contribute to any of these goals of justice," it said.

The bishops also said that the Philippines is a state party of the UN Second Optional Protocol of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that requires the abolition of the death penalty.

"We cannot and should not renege on our international obligations, especially when these are not only lawful but moral," the bishops said.

Former president Gloria Arroyo repealed the death penalty in 2006.

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