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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Religious leaders call on Duterte administration and give emphasis on restorative justice

Religious leaders call on government to prevent reimposition of the death penalty

MANILA – Leaders from different religious groups called on the Duterte Administration to stop its plan to reimpose the death penalty.

In a statement released on Christmas Eve, the group known as One Voice with Catholic Bishop and Archdiocese of Manila Administrator Broderick S. Pabillo, Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and several other prominent leaders said the bloody incident last Sunday afternoon involving a police officer who shot dead a mother and son, described the episode as “stunning.”

“This contrasts with renewed calls by politicians for death penalty in the same, tired, strong-armed foolishness that set the state for these gruesome murders in the first place. Viciousness begets more violence, brutality and hostility,” they said. The group explained death penalty does not deter crime and there is no basis for a renewed call to reimpose the death penalty, “in fact, this is glaring example that governance is moving in the wrong direction.”

They said the gruesome killing of Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank is “a symptom of deeper cultural rot cause by impunity.”

“With the war on drugs that lauded police and so-called ‘vigilantes’ for the deaths of thousands of poor in brutal extra-judicial killings, they have not only poured unspeakable suffering upon orphans, widows and loved ones left behind, they have fueled an expectation and perception of entitlement to use brute violence within police and other state forces,” the group said in their statement.

They said the government remains unrepentant as it insists that police operations have been conducted under a presumption of regularity. The group said while the government describes the incident as an “isolated one,” the killings “are frighteningly voluminous and common.” They equated this with red-tagging, harassment and killings of activists, human rights defenders, and journalists.

“High-level officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte, only mock the processes of the International Criminal Court, which move closer to indictments for crimes against humanity,” the statement added.

As they called for human rights violators to be made accountable, they still held their position that the death penalty is not the answer to infractions of the law. As they pushed for restorative justice.

They called on the government to end the culture if impunity and correct abuses of power by police and other men in uniform.

“Best modeled by promoting accountability and the value of life, politicians and state officials should focus on corrective actions that don’t require killing anyone,” they concluded.

Other signatories were De La Salle Brothers in East Asia Superior Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, Dr. Marita Wasan of the Diocese of Antipolo Sr. Maria Lisa Ruedas, DC from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, and Sister Rowena Pineda, MMS, or Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN). (Melo M. Acuna)

Catholic Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD and other church leaders called on the government not to reimpose the death penalty and investigate violent incidents involving police and other uniformed service. (Screen grab from the Christmas Eve Mass at the Manila Cathedral/Melo M. Acuna)

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