CBCP hits death penalty: 'No person beyond redemption'

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the death penalty as Filipino congressmen prepare to tackle the proposed revival of capital punishment in the country.

"We regret that there are strident efforts to restore the death penalty. Though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we have no right ever giving up on any person," CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said Monday, January 30, after the bishops' biannual plenary. (READ: CBCP head: 'A defensive church will not inspire souls')

"When we condemn violence, we cannot ourselves be its perpetrators, and when we decry murder, we cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process," Villegas added on behalf of the CBCP.

The CBCP president issued this statement a day before the House of Representatives opens the floor on Tuesday afternoon, January 31, for plenary debates on the controversial death penalty bill. 

Villegas explained: "The Gospel of the Lord Jesus is the Gospel of Life. It is this Gospel we must preach. It is this Gospel that we must uphold. We therefore unequivocally oppose proposals and moves to return the death penalty into the Philippine legal system."

He also pointed out that "the trend against the death penalty is unmistakable" throughout the world.

He stressed as well that an international covenant obliges the Philippines not to impose the death penalty. (READ: UN on death penalty: PH will break int'l law)

On January 26, Villegas had also rejected the death penalty after overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jakatia Pawa was executed by hanging in Kuwait while she maintained her innocence. – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com