Group sends anti-death penalty signature campaign to Senate

DUMAGUETE CITY -- The Diocesan Committee of the Laity of the Diocese of Dumaguete will be sending through courier its position letter and signature campaign to the Senate reiterating its strong objection to the death penalty.

William Ablong, chair of the Committee of the Laity and who also heads the Diocesan Organizations of Renewal Movement and Communities (DORMC), announced at a press conference Monday morning that the signatures of more than 26,000 are in eight hardbound sets.

The signatures will be sent to Senate president Aquilino Pimentel III, said Ablong, who expressed optimism that there is still hope and a chance to have the death penalty bill rejected at the Senate as opposed to it being passed in the Lower House.

Ablong said that the actual total number of signatures reached 27,004, but only 26,670 signatures are in the hardbound sets because the remaining 334 signatures did not make it to the deadline set by the printing press.

The petition/drive against the death penalty started sometime last February through the Diocesan Committee of the Laity and DORMC in consultation with Church officials, said Ablong.

Last February 22, the group started gathering signatures and on February 26 they launched the signature campaign in all the parish churches in the Diocese of Dumaguete.

They also sent copies of the signed petition to the congressional representatives of Negros Oriental and Siquijor on February 27. On the same day, the Lower House voted and passed House Bill 4727 on the death penalty.

Ablong reiterated that 217 lawmakers voted for its passage while only 54 voted against it and one had abstained.

Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong of the 1st district of Negros Oriental and Representative Rav Rocamora of the lone congressional district of Siquijor voted against it, but Representative Manuel Sagarbarria of the 2nd district and Representative Arnulfo Teves, Jr. of the 3rd district of Negros Oriental voted in its favor.

Unfazed by this, they continued with the collection of signatures so that they can reach their target of 20,000 before they sent the same, this time, to the Senate, explained Ablong.

Ablong expressed gratitude to those who did not hesitate to sign the petition and signature campaign, which led to achieving more than they had targeted.

As for those who did not sign, Ablong said it is not a problem because this is a democratic country and everyone has a right to choose.

Ablong also reiterated that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, citing as an example the many deaths that have been committed even without the measure in place.

Many countries have already shunned the death penalty and the Philippines should also do the same, he said.

Focus must instead be given to instilling values and strengthening family relationships in a society where these are already lacking, Ablong added. (PNA)
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