Dialogue, not death penalty
President Duterte, in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), showed commendably strong political will, a sense of urgency and a consistent resolve to eradicate corruption, drugs, poverty and criminality.
But what truly hit me in his speech was the urgent call to the men and women of the Senate and House of Representatives to immediately pass the death penalty bill.
As a baptized Catholic, like the majority of citizens in this country, I cannot simply keep my silence. The death penalty bill, if approved, would endanger more human lives, considering the spate of killings of more than 5,000 suspected drug users, peddlers and protectors that has been reported in the last three years. No doubt, the death penalty violates the precious dignity and sacredness of human life, the most fundamental right of all.
Pope Francis, in one of his many messages, declared his strong opposition against the death penalty. “The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, is in itself contrary to the Gospel,” he said, explaining that it’s a decision voluntarily made “to suppress the rights of a human being which is sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which only God is the true judge and guarantor.”
The Pope put emphasis on the fact that the “death penalty not only extinguishes human life but also extinguishes the possibility that the person recognizing his or her mistakes will have an opportunity to ask forgiveness and start a new life.”
Anchored on our faith, it is my ardent prayer that our leaders in government, as well as law enforcers and legislators, will practice prudence, compassion and fairness in their approach to solving the drug problem. Let us be considerate in dealing with drug dependents and give them opportunities to be heard, to heal and to be socially transformed, so that they can be accepted back to society.
DR. RICARDO S.D. LEDESMA
Council of the Laity of Manila
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