Bishops oppose restoring death penalty, but many Filipinos back Duterte
Catholic bishops in the Philippines are speaking out against the imminent reintroduction of the death penalty, but many citizens in the predominantly Catholic country have rallied around the tough-on-crime approach of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Philippine House of Representatives will vote by the end of this year on reinstating capital punishment, a sentence one opposition lawmaker has called “the worst Christmas gift” for the Philippine people. One archbishop dubbed the move a lazy dodge instead of helping offenders.
Amid his war on drugs, Duterte has presented the death penalty as an essential deterrent to crime. He has strong support in this from lawmakers.
Jose Manuel Diokno, who heads the law school at De La Salle University in Manila, said he thinks members of the House of Representatives who support reimposing the death penalty are “simply pandering to the Duterte administration and trying to curry political favour with the president.” Diokno said while there have been no recent polls to provide figures, support for the move from citizens likely stems from those who are fed up with the Philippines’ weak justice system. Critics allege routine shoddy work by police investigators and note that prosecutors bring only one in five cases to trial.
In 1987, the Philippines became the first Asian nation to abolish the death penalty. It reinstated the punishment from 1993 to 2006, but critics say convictions were rife with errors and were applied overwhelmingly against the poor. A case in 2004 revealed a 71 per cent wrongful conviction rate by lower courts.
Picture: Women’s advocates hold banners during a gathering in late September against the execution of death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso in Manila, Philippines. Catholic bishops in the Philippines are speaking out against the imminent reintroduction of the death penalty, but many citizens in the predominantly Catholic country have rallied around the tough-on-crime approach of President Rodrigo Duterte.(CNS photo/Mark R. Crisino, EPA).Tags: death penalty, Duterte, Phillippines