BISHOP Patricio Buzon of the Diocese of Bacolod is asking the Catholic faithful to join them in the fight against the re-imposition of the death penalty.
Buzon led the “Prayer Rally for Life,” which was attended by 1,500 people, including the youth. The procession around the public plaza going to the San Sebastian Cathedral started past 4:30 p.m., Monday.
Buzon said the Diocese of Bacolod is “in solidarity” with the whole Catholic churches in the country, adding that different dioceses have their respective activities to express their opposition against the revival of the capital punishment.
He said the move to re-impose death penalty is “a step backward.”
“The whole of humanity is moving forward already and is awakened to the appreciation of the value of human life. Before, there was a death penalty because maybe there's no other way stopping the criminals. But now, conditions have changed. The condition no longer warrants the death penalty,” he pointed out.
Buzon urged the public to pray that death penalty will not push through.
“In the end, everything depends on prayers. Only the Lord can touch a man’s heart,” he added.
He said it is the belief of the church that life is sacred and the dignity of man is such that no amount of sin can warrant the extinguishing of life.
”Pray for the lawmakers”
Buzon called on the faithful to pray for the lawmakers that they will be guided in their decision about death penalty.
He said it’s a “pity” that the super majority of the Congress is aligned with the administration’s stand.
“This political situation is such, sorry to say, but our leaders are thinking for themselves and not thinking about the people or their own constituents. They are just following a leader who promises them. I don't know, it's really very sad, our state of politics now,” he said.
The bishop added that after the elections, “the whole mass is moving (with) who holds the power, we have not matured. The popularity of this president is high (referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Buzon said he was “shocked” to read news that there were “more cheers than jeers” on death penalty.
“They’re happy that many have died. It’s like the time of the Romans, the gladiators are thirsting for more blood,” he said.
He added that this is “a sad development in our society and government.”
”Educate the people”
Buzon said they will try to lobby with those in power to “persuade them and convince them” not to approve the death penalty measure.
“For us really is the education of the people. It's a great challenge because the culture of death is with us already. It's very sad,” he said.
He said the church will utilize “all the venues for education. For us in the church, our venue is evangelization. Then we have the schools. We have our lay organizations. I suppose (we) mobilize them.”
Buzon added that they need to form their lay people to take their place in the society.
“It’s a great challenge of making our lay people take their place in the society. To transform the society, (with) a Christian leadership, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to happen yet,” Buzon emphasized.
Buzon said that Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, appealed to all bishops in the country “to put our acts together in raising the consciousness and pray.”
Last week, the House justice committee approved the measure which seeks to restore the capital punishment in the country.
House Bill 1, also known as the Death Penalty bill, identifies the heinous crimes for which the death penalty will be imposed, including trafficking in illegal drugs, arson, treason, murder, rape, kidnapping, and carnapping. The mode of capital punishment could either be through hanging, by firing squad or lethal injection.
The imposition of death penalty has been suspended since 2006 with the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346, or “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.”