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Duterte firm on death penalty despite Pope's call for abolition
By Manolo B. Jara August 04, 2018
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MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte remains firm in his stand for the return of death penalty in the country for "heinous crimes" like illegal drugs despite Vatican's announcement that Pope Francis is calling for its abolition.

 
"It is still a priority of the administration to reimpose the death penalty for serious drug-related offenses. But the decision is up to the Senate," said Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman.
 
The issue has become the focus of a major disagreement between the Catholic Church as well as "prolifers" and Duterte who made it an election campaign commitment for the reimposition of capital punishment to strengthen his war on drugs and rampant criminality.
 
The House of Representatives where Duterte supporters enjoy a super majority unanimously approved a bill for the return of the death penalty for heinous crimes which, aside from illegal drugs, also include murder, kidnap-for-ransom, treason and homicide with rape.
 
But Malacanang Palace officials have admitted that the controversial proposal continues to face an uphill battle in the Senate due to strong opposition from administration and opposition members.
 
Only four senators in the 22-member chamber - boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, Jose Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian and Cynthia Villar - have expressed their support for the measure advocated by Duterte even while he was the mayor for more than 20 years of his hometown of Davao City in Mindanao.
 
"There is no death penalty vote in the Senate. The bill will die if put to a vote today. Malacanang knows this. I don't think they wil waste their political capital on the death penalty bill," said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
Congress abolished the death penalty in 2006 during the term of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a congresswoman for her home province of Pampanga in Central Luzon and who succeeded Duterte ally Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez as the speaker in a recent "coup."
 
On Thursday, Vatican announced a change in its universal catechism, a summary of Church teachings reflecting Pope Francis's opposition to capital punishment.
 
"The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of a person," the Vatican pointed out.
 
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which has been at odds with Duterte on many issues, immediately issued a statement, pointing out that the the stand of Pope Francis shows there is no explanation to justify the return of death penalty in the country.

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