Maryjane Omandam Maryjane Omandam Author
Title: The course and curse of death penalty
Author: Maryjane Omandam
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When Killing becomes Sweet for Criminals Day 5 of the Panagdait Festival launched the In-House Inset of all employees of Saint Columb...

When Killing becomes Sweet for Criminals

Day 5 of the Panagdait Festival launched the In-House Inset of all employees of Saint Columban College. This activity was spearheaded by the 4 pillars of the institution; Rev. Fr. Gilbert M. Hingone, Stl., School President who talked on Death Penalty; Rev. Fr. Belstar O. Ediang, Vice President of Administration and Finance who shared about modernism; Dr. Nora Agustero, Vice President for academics who discussed on Research with Sr. Ammie Adoremos, CB, Vice president for Saint Columban Spiritualty and Formation who prepared the entire program.

Death penalty has been the talk of the town recently as the government wanted to revive it to give solution to the pressing and rampant issues on criminality in society. In Fr. Hingone's presentation, he traced back the history of death penalty. It was found that in the early 13th century, there were few prominent people and saints who defended death penalty. And the first person sentenced to death penalty was Prescillian, a heretic, during the 5th century as St. Augustine recognized the need for capital punishment.

St. Thomas Aquinas in 13th century defended death penalty as a means of protecting the whole body of the society. and in 1251, Gregory IX prescribed in Canon Law as the burning of the heretics. But it was also promoted that this should not be done for vengeance.
 The breakthrough came about in 1976 when Papal Commission on Justice and Peace openly expressed opposition to death penalty. It is believed that this death penalty is turning to violence in search for a quick and easy answer to complex human problems and in turn losing the respect to human life. Instead of mocking the dignity of human life, there is a unified  need to work for total healing for humanity to live in harmony.

This was supported by the encyclical of St. John Paul II in 1995 'The Gospel of Life, no. 56, "in nature and extent of punishment, it must be carefully evaluated and decided upon and ought not to go the extreme of executing in extreme situation." There were other groups who in like manner opposed it like the United States Bishops through releasing statements of opposition in death penalty and yet people are still executed and slaughtered.

The catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as well has a strong say on the abolition of death penalty in the country. This was catered in the 1986 New Constitution and by laws which includes the abolition of death penalty unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes. But in 1992, President Fidel Ramos restored death penalty by lethal injection because during this time, heinous crimes also increased in number.This was through the passing of RA 7659 in congress imposing death penalty for heinous crimes.

Through the years, it was observed that death penalty has not answered the problem of crime in the country. And those who were sentenced to lethal injection were mostly coming from the poor sector of the society. Not one rapist coming from the elite society had been penalized with death penalty. 

During the reign of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, she again abolished death penalty in the Philippine Law and lower the sentence of heinous crimes to life imprisonment. But then again, crimes still is increasing in nature. Anytime of the day, a person is reported nabbed walking in the street, or members of the family being massacred, robbed and all other forms of monstrous threats to human life.

At present in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his intention to restore death penalty by hanging. It sees it as an asset of defeating drug lords in the country. Accordingly, the vice president is personally against death penalty but she rather leaves the matter to the hands of the legislative body. And it was noted that many of the law makers in the country are showing support to the restoration of death penalty. 

CBCP on the other hand urged government  to come up with a critical assessment for death penalty since the actual deterrent effect of capital punishment has not been established, human being has a value in itself and that must be respected. Its objection to death penalty was based on the premise that the imposition of death penalty will have a bias against the poor and therefore not in line with the church preferential.

Along with this opposition was a couple of alternative recommendations that government must do. There must be a comprehensive attack on poverty, reform of the criminal justice system, reform of penal system, deal with the cause of crimes, cleanse the police and military, provide a lessening of the atmosphere of violence, and enforce strictly the banning of guns in the public. 

Every day, various crimes flooded over the reports from the television and radio, no one knows the secret capsule of this capsule but one thing for sure this is gonna be a lot of challenge to the government.

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