MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) slammed the House of Representatives on Tuesday evening, March 7, for approving the death penalty bill on 3rd and final reading.
"The House of Representatives has given its consent for the State to kill. We, your bishops, are overcome with grief but we are not defeated nor shall we be silenced," CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
"In the midst of Lent, we prepare to celebrate the triumph of Life over Death, and while we grieve that the Lower House has voted for death, our faith assures us that Life will triumph," he added.
Villegas issued this statement after 217 lawmakers voted in favor of the death penalty measure, House Bill Number 4727, while 54 voted against it and 1 abstained. The bill seeks to punish perpetrators of drug-related crimes. (READ: LIST: How congressmen and women voted on the death penalty bill)
The Catholic Church is one of the strongest voices against the death penalty, which the Duterte administration pushes as part of its bloody war on drugs. (READ: Archbishops Tagle, Villegas denounce death penalty)
In his statement, Villegas added, "We call on all Catholic faithful and all Filipinos who stand for life to continue the spirited opposition to the death penalty."
He also urged Catholic lawyers, judges, and jurists "to allow the gentleness of the Gospel to illumine their reading and application of the law."
After all, he said, "They may have won, but it does not mean that they are right." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.