Thousands say no to death penalty

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Thousands of faithful led by the Pampanga clergy yesterday took to the streets to express their opposition to the death penalty and extra judicial killings (EJKs).

The estimated crowd of 5,000, predominantly Catholics from various parishes, schools, pastoral groups and missionaries converged at around 7:00 am at this city’s old train station compound after the “walk for life” that took off from four points of the province early morning.

Lay leader Banjo Serrano of the local Council of the Laity said that the gathering was meant to echo the stand of the church against the re-imposition of the death penalty and EJKs resulting from the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs and heinous crimes.

It is also, he said, a re-echoing of the message of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines to Filipinos Catholics to “never live in terror, even in the face of violence and looming attempts to reinstate the capital punishment.”

The Walk for Life, which is led by the Council of the Laity, was organized after the Catholic Church expressed alarm over the killings of more than 7,000 people so far since Duterte assumed office June 30 of last year.

But the rallyists told Sun.Star Pampanga that Walk for Life is not a protest but "a commitment to the sacredness of life given by God."

After the brief program at the old train station compound, the marchers proceeded to the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando where an “offering for life and peace” and Eucharistic celebration was held and led by Archbishop Florentino Lavarias.

Earlier before Saturday’s Walk for Life, different parishes and Roman Catholic Church-run schools all over Pampanga were asked by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Fernando to hold masses and Eucharistic adoration over the weekend "to ask enlightenment" over attempts to bring back the death penalty.

Archbishop Lavarias, in a February 15 letter, had asked the Pampanga clergy, directors of Archdiocesan schools and the laity to join in the masses and observance of Eucharistic adoration over the weekend in opposition to the death penalty.

The country is a signatory of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which has signified not to impose death penalty as punishment. Former President Gloria Macapagal–Arroyo suspended the death penalty before the country signed with ICCPR. (JTD)

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