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Death penalty opponents mark anniversary

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 Catholic priests and human rights advocates release white balloons to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City, June 24, 2016. (Photo: Glenn Figuracion)

Catholic priests and human rights advocates release white balloons to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City, June 24, 2016. (Photo: Glenn Figuracion)

MANILA, June 24, 2016— Church leaders and death penalty opponents marked the 10th anniversary of the abolition of capital punishment in the Philippines on Friday amid calls for it to be brought back.

The commemoration held at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City was highlighted with a Mass presided over by Fr. Bryan Suarez of the Cotabato archdiocese and Fr. Robert Reyes as the homilist.

Reyes, in his homily, warned against the restoration of the death penalty saying it can cause more harm than good.

“Killing criminals with or without due process promotes and creates an environment of vengeance, retribution, anger, hatred and death,” said Reyes, a former president of the Coalition Against Death Penalty (CADP).

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted capital punishment reintroduced for a wide range of heinous crimes, particularly drugs, rape and murder.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ prison ministry, urged Duterte and his allies in Congress to rethink his position on death penalty.

“We will write and we will appeal to the president (to reconsider push for death penalty),” Diamante said.

He argued that capital punishment is a “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” approach to crime prevention.

“There is no humane method of killing. The penalty, whether carried out or not, exerts extreme emotional and psychological pressures on the condemned and his family,” added Diamante.

The long-time anti-death penalty campaigner also said the proposed measure is titled against the poor, the marginalized and the most vulnerable sectors of society.

“Experience shows that most, if not all persons meted the death penalty are poor and uneducated, who cannot afford to retain prominent criminal lawyers and have no political connections,” he said.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a law abolishing capital punishment on June 24, 2006. (Glenn Figuracion/CBCPNews)

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