Catholic World News

Over bishops’ opposition, legislators in Philippines move to restore capital punishment

March 07, 2017

Despite strong opposition from the Catholic hierarchy, legislators in the Philippines have voted to restore the death penalty.

Capital punishment was ended in the Philippines in 2006. But the lower house of the country’s legislature voted overwhelmingly (216- 54) in favor of a bill to restore the death penalty for serious drug-related crimes. The bill still faces a vote in the Senate.

The new legislation is targeted specifically to punishment of drug traffickers. The bill was amended to remove murder, rape, and treason from a list of crimes punishable by death. The drive against drug trafficking has been a top priority for President Rodrigo Duterte. The president has signaled his support for vigilante groups that are believed to have conducted as many as 8,000 non-judicial executions of suspected drug dealers.

The Catholic bishops of the Philippines, who have condemned the vigilante violence, also opposed the restoration of the death penalty. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, said that the bishops are “overcome with grief” by the preliminary passage of the bill, “but we are not defeated nor shall we be silenced.”

 
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