“No justice without life”conference vs death penalty steps outside Italy

 

[l-r] Leonardo Tranggono of Sant'Egidio, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno, Philippines Secretary Leila De Lima, Philippines Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Administrator Manuel Co of Parole and Probation Administration announce the first "No justice without life" Conference in Asia at the Oct. 23 press conference at the Department of Justice, Manila/ NJ Viehland Photos

[l-r] Leonardo Tranggono of Sant’Egidio, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno, Philippines Secretary Leila De Lima, Philippines Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Administrator Manuel Co of Parole and Probation Administration announce the first “No justice without life” Conference in Asia at the Oct. 23 press conference at the Department of Justice, Manila/ NJ Viehland Photos

Rome-based international Christian Community of Sant’Egidio and the Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ) welcomed delegates to the October 27-28 conference on the death penalty that will be held in Mandaluyong City, east of Manila.

Philippines Justice Secretary Leila De Lima announced the “Asia-Pacific Congress on human rights, respect of human life, abolition of death penalty,”  and introduced her department’s co-organizers during a press conference conducted Oct. 23 at the DOJ in Manila as delegates arrived. 

On Monday, representatives of Asian governments, activists and witnesses from Asian countries and more than 30 mayors from around the Philippines will gather  there for two days to listen to and dialogue on issues and points tackled in talks concerning human rights, respect for life, abolition of every kind of death penalty in Asia. 

Countries expected to send representatives include India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is also sending representatives from its commission on prison pastoral care.

 Leonardo Tranggono who serves in Sant’Egidio’s international affairs office told Catholic in Asia this is the first time the annual gathering launched in 2005 is being held outside Italy. Asia was selected primarily because majority of governments in the region still impose capital punishment, Tranggono said.

Tranggono and Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno thanked De Lima for accepting the invitation to host the “historic” conference and for the Philippine government’s “advocacy” for halting executions of persons. 

President Gloria Arroyo approved in 2006 the law abolishing death penalty in the Philippines.

This week’s conference host, Mandaluyong City, has also declared its opposition to the death penalty, along with more than 2,000 “Cities for Life” in some 50 countries, Tranggono said.

End of Part I       

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CBCP Document: THE CBCP and the Proposed Restoration of the Death Penalty

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Although appalled by the spate of killings and other heinous crimes in the country, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday rejected calls to revive the death penalty.

Following is the full text of the bishops’ statement issued yesterday by Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, CBCP President…

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine has been informed of attempts by advocacy groups to lobby the Legislature for the restoration of the death penalty.

The CBCP must, with full voice, express its position FOR LIFE and AGAINST DEATH. “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Our posture cannot be otherwise. The Gospel we preach is a Gospel of Life, but the position we take is defensible even on non-religious grounds.

AIM OF JUSTICE

Justice DOES NOT DEMAND the death penalty. A mature sense of justice steers as far as possible from retribution in the realization that visiting on an offender the same injury he inflicted on his victim makes matters no better at all for anyone! The aim of justice is the restoration of broken relations and the ruptured social coherence that follow from crime. Executing a human person does not contribute to any of these goals of justice. Neither can it be argued that the supreme penalty is necessary to vindicate a legal order. In fact, it is a weak and retrogressive legal order that calls for the execution of offenders for its vindication!

There is something terribly self-contradictory about the death penalty, for it is inflicted precisely in social retaliation to the violence unlawfully wielded by offenders. But in carrying out the death penalty, the State assumes the very posture of violence that it condemns!

CRUEL AND INHUMANE

Death penalty is cruel and inhumane in two senses.

 First, the terrible anxiety and psychological distress that come on one who awaits the moment of execution constitute the cruel and inhuman punishment that most legal systems today proscribe, including the Constitution of our country. It has been rightly said that the anticipation of impending death is more terrible a torture than suffering death itself!

Second, the members of the family of the condemned persons, many times including children, are, for their life-times, stigmatized as members of the family of an executed person, bearing with them the price of a crime they never committed.

 IMPERFECT JUSTICE SYSTEM

A most important consideration is the imperfection of our judicial system. While the CBCP has every respect for respectable judges, the fact is that the judicial system — including the process of evaluating and weighing evidence — is, like all human systems, liable to error. But the death penalty, once executed, is irreversible and no repentance or regret can ever make up for the horrible injustice of a person wrongfully executed. There is furthermore the sadder fact that some judges, betraying the dignity and nobility of their calling, allow extra-legal considerations to taint their judgments, rendering judicial disposition of cases less reliable still. Once more, we must make clear that the CBCP does not by any means intend to cast aspersions on the judiciary of our country and in fact calls on all our people to turn to the courts for the redress of grievances.

INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENT

Finally, the Philippines is a State-Party of the Second Optional Protocol of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principal obligation we assumed under this international agreement is to abolish the death penalty. We cannot and should not renege on our international obligations, especially when these are not only lawful but moral. Pacta sunt servanda is not only a legal principle. It is key ethical imperative as well!

 From Betania Retreat House, Tagaytay City, July 2, 2014

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS, D.D.

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP