MANILA, Jan. 23, 2011â€”Church officials said re-imposition of death penalty is not the answer to surging heinous crimes in the country but an efficient justice system that respect rights of both victims and offenders.
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippinesâ€™ President and Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar said the government should not return the death penalty but instead assure crime victimsâ€™ kin of the immediate apprehension of suspects, the speedy dispensation of justice and the equal treatment of criminal offenders in the countryâ€™s jails and penitentiaries.
The recent spate of heinous crimes across the country have led several legislators and anti-crime advocates to move for the re-imposition of the death penalty but the Catholic Church has remained firm in its pro-life stand.
In a report to Vatican Radio by CBCPNews late Friday afternoon, Odchimar reiterated the Churchâ€™s stand and said government instead should do more to make the justice system work effectively.
â€œIf only the government would do everything to arrest suspects, immediately dispense justice and treat convicts equally in the countryâ€™s jails and penitentiaries, there would be no need for the death penalty,â€ the 70-year old prelate said.
Meanwhile, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care Chairman and Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro D. Arigo said the legislators are â€œbarking at the wrong tree.â€
Arigo said the government should work more in persecuting criminals and make sure the criminal justice system work efficiently.
â€œThe government, the three branches of government, should assure its citizens of an efficient service and effective criminal justice system and there would be no need for the death penalty,â€ he said.
He described the proposals to re-impose the death penalty as a rehash of earlier efforts and likened it to a broken record (â€œsirang plakaâ€).
The Catholic Church has always believed in manâ€™s capability to change even after serving a jail term.
â€œThereâ€™s always a possibility that convicts turn in a new leaf and become productive members of society,â€ Arigo added. (Melo M. Acuna)