Our Conference expresses deep appreciation for the June 6, 2006 decision of Philippine Congress to repeal or abolish death penalty. This decision is consistent with our long standing and on-going advocacy for the sacredness of human life whose Creator is God Himself. Human life, whose ever it is, is sacred.
Today’s abolition of death penalty recalls a little bit of history. In 1971 the United Nation declared that to fully guarantee the right to life as provided by the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, death penalty be progressively restricted “with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment in all countries.” Since then more and more countries have actually abolished the death penalty. With the decision of our Congress we are now included in their number.
It must also be recalled that through the 1986 Philippine Constitution (after Martial Law) the death penalty had already been abolished but only to be restored in 1994. The CBCP at that time opposed its restoration. We hope that the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines will now be a permanent one.
We have consistently believed that human life and the right to life are better defended by the non-imposition of death sentence as well as by the reform of our law enforcement and justice system towards the establishment of an atmosphere of peace and order.
We sadly observe that our justice system is so partial that those who deserve to be in jail continue to be out of jail, and those who deserve to be out of jail continue to be in jail. The system is perceived to be biased against the poor and powerless. There is a great need to guarantee truly equal justice for all in our justice system.
A program of rehabilitation through values formation and income generating projects must be pursued for the prisoners in order to generate the sense of humanity and usefulness among them.
Better ways of curving criminality need to be discovered and advocated: such as the CBCP has advocated before: the solving of economic poverty of the majority of our people, the reform of our law enforcement and penal system, combating the causes of drug dependency and gambling syndrome, values formation in the police and military, the elimination of violence propagated by media, the enforcement of the law on gun ban.
The other side of the abolition of death penalty and the curving of criminality is the improvement of the quality of life.
+Angel N. Lagdameo
June 7, 2006