HOLDING lighted candles and rosaries, 800 people joined a rally yesterday to protest the reimposition of the death penalty.
The Walk for Life rally attracted senior high school students, cause-oriented groups, nurses, and members of the church, who gathered at the Plaza Sugbo before the prayer rally, which ended with a mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
“We are doing this to commemorate the Pro-Life Month. This is also our protest against the death penalty and our stand for God, meaning we also stand for life,” said Dr. Rene Bullecer, who headed the event.
Among those who spoke at the rally were Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar and Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Other speakers include Zenaida Belceña of the Marian devotees and Rev. Eligio Suico of the Archdiocesan Commission on Family and Apostolate Life, who delivered Archishop Jose Palma’s message.
Pangilinan said the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. He cited data from police show how crimes increased in the 60s despite the death penalty at that time.
He said the Supreme Court admitted that 71 percent of those who were punished with death were convicted by “mistake.”
“What we need is a modernized justice system with more conviction and fast-tracked trials to solve crimes. This will abolish extra-judicial killing, which is a manifestation of the dysfunction in our justice system,” he said.
Pangilinan said that the Senate will stop the reimposition of capital punishment, just as it did in 2006. He described the death penalty as anti-poor.
Del Mar said that about 70 overseas Filipino workers are now facing trials abroad with death as punishment.
“How could we protect our brothers and sisters abroad if we are using the same punishment in our own land? The foreigners will ask us what excuse do we have to spare our fellows’ lives if we, too, have the death penalty,” he said.
Del Mar, together with 11 representatives, signed a resolution opposing and rejecting the reimposition of the penalty.
In their resolution, the lawmakers said that Congress has no plenary power to restore death penalty as the 1987 Constitution does not prescribe it.
Labella said that as a former prosecutor, he can attest to death not being the solution to crime.
“Our justice system is reformatory, meaning, correcting and not afflicting. Each person deserves a second chance,” he said.
Suico said that Palma wants the public to know that the church’s opposition does not mean it tolerates crime.
But it instead provides for other means to live peacefully without condemnation and giving the perpetrator a chance to answer for his crimes.
The Congress’ majority bloc last week voted in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty as the highest punishment.