MANILA, Philippines – The call for the restoration of the death penalty by president-elect Rodrigo Duterte would likely spark a debate on the morality and practicality of imposing extreme punishment, incoming presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday.
Abella, a former pastor, said he expects critics and supporters of capital punishment to have a “conversation” about the issue.
When asked how Duterte intends to push for the death penalty in a predominantly Catholic country, Abella said: “I’m sure there will be conversation regarding that. The conversation has to go through a process.
“Definitely there is a goal and the law must be imposed and implemented to its full powers, to its full limits,” he added.
“There is law and it is a deterrent. But if the law is broken, there should be order.”
Abella noted the statements made by Pope Francis regarding capital punishment.
Francis said in a video message on Tuesday that capital punishment is an offense to life, contradicting God’s plan and serves no purpose for punishment.
Francis sent a video message to an anti-death penalty congress in Norway, expressing his opposition to the death penalty.
Abella, however, believes the pope was not singling out the Philippines when he issued the statement against the restoration of the death penalty.
“I don’t know if it is in direct reference to the government’s position. Is it? I don’t think it was,” he said.
“In general, as you very well heard RRD (Duterte) in his speech in Sarangani, he did say his view on death penalty is that it is retribution. It is clear where he stands,” he added.
Pope Francis maintained that the death penalty goes against God’s plan and applies to both the guilty and the innocent.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also stressed that capital punishment promotes vengeance rather than justice.
“It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal,” the pope said in a video message sent to delegates of the sixth World Congress against capital punishment in Oslo.
“Indeed, nowadays, the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person,” the pontiff added.
A total of 140 nations, including the Philippines, have abolished the death penalty. This may change soon, however, as the revival of capital punishment is a priority of the incoming Duterte administration, which has vowed to suppress crime in three to six months.
The death penalty was scrapped in 1987 during the presidency of Corazon Aquino but was revived six years later under her successor Fidel Ramos. Crimes that were punishable by death include kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking and rape.
Capital punishment was abolished anew in 2006 under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a devout Catholic.
Duterte, who claims to be a believer of God but not of religion, said the death penalty is more of a retribution for criminals rather than a deterrent.
“Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did,” he said.
Duterte will have at least two former preachers in his Cabinet. They are Abella, who founded the religious group The Jesus Fellow Inc., and former rebel priest turned mayor Leoncio Evasco, who will serve as secretary to the Cabinet.
Phil Star Global http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/06/24/1596148/rody-govt-promises-conversation-over-death-penalty