MANILA, Philippines – Slammed by critics for supposedly condoning drug addicts, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) made himself clear on Saturday, February 18: Criminals should go to jail.
“Ang Walk for Life ay hindi para ipagtanggol ang drug addict o ang mga mamamatay-tao (The Walk For Life does not aim to defend drug addicts or murderers),” CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said at the Walk for Life organized by lay Catholics.
Villegas added: “Ang kriminal ay dapat arestuhin, kasuhan, hatulan, at ikulong upang iwasto ang pagkakamali. Dapat patunayan ang pagkakasala sa korte ng batas, hindi sa batas ng bala.“
(Criminals should be arrested, sued, convicted, and jailed to correct their mistakes. Their violations should be proven in a court of law, not through the law of bullets.)
The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty, which Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pushes as part of his war on drugs. (READ: CBCP hits death penalty: ‘No person beyond redemption’)
“Ang Walk for Life ay Walk for God (The Walk for Life is a Walk for God),” the archbishop also said. (READ: Walk for Life: ‘Malapit nang sumikat ang araw’ – Villegas)
Villegas spoke at around 4:30 am on Saturday at the Walk for Life, a grand Catholic procession against extrajudicial killings and the proposed revival of the death penalty.
Police said up to 10,000 Filipinos joined the biggest Catholic rally in recent years.
In his speech, Villegas explained that the Walk for Life began at 4:30 am because it is during these hours that people find dead bodies on the streets or near the garbage cans.
It was also around this time when national hero Jose Rizal walked to Luneta, near the site of Saturday’s event, to be executed by firing squad on December 30, 1896.
Having explained this, the CBCP president stressed the Catholic Church’s stance against the death penalty
“Ang parusang bitay ay saliwa sa kabanalan ng buhay ng tao. Sa halip na bitay, linisin natin ang kapulisan, ayusin ang husgado, at higpitan palakad sa bilangguan,” Villegas said.
(The death penalty is against the sanctity of human life. Instead of the death penalty, let us cleanse the police, fix our courts, and be stricter in running jails.)
Also on Saturday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle spoke at the same event, and pushed for “active non-violence.” (READ: TRANSCRIPT: Cardinal Tagle’s speech at Walk for Life)
“Kapag ang tugon sa karahasan ay karahasan din, nadoble ang karahasan. Hindi dapat dinodoble o pinalalaganap ang karahasan. Ito ay tinutumbasan ng non-violence,” Tagle said.
(If the response to violence is also violence, we double the violence. We shouldn’t be doubling or propagating violence. We should match it with non-violence.) – Rappler.com