NCCP STATEMENT: Restoring the Death Penalty is Missing the Point

February 15, 2017

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) re-iterates its strong objection to death penalty. No person is beyond God’s redemptive love. This was NCCP’s stand conveyed to the Constitutional Commission which framed the 1986 Constitution. At its 14th General Convention in November 21-24, 1989, the NCCP opposed the death penalty on the following grounds: a) it violates the right to life and is an ultimate, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; b) its imposition and infliction is brutalizing to all who are involved in the process; c) it is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent; and, d) it is unnecessary in an enlightened penal policy which emphasizes the rehabilitation of offenders rather than retribution.

The same Convention said “the imposition of death penalty misses the point in leading our country towards a more democratic life. The rise in crime and insurgency cannot be abated by the restoration of the death penalty because the measure does nothing to address the very reason why Filipinos are driven to criminality (and insurgency). It is poverty and inequality that must be addressed by government and all responsible sectors if violence must be lessened. Another point is that the example set by so many of our leaders is one of graft, corruption and incompetence. Citizens no longer have respect for those who create and preserve the law. This breakdown . . . leads some to justify their violent actions.”

Christian teaching affirms God as the creator and redeemer and nobody has the right to take human life away, even though a cursory look at the Old Testament seem to suggest that “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and “a life for a life” are acceptable. Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the law has inaugurated the commandment upon which the law and the prophets stand – the command to love God and to love neighbor (Matt 22:37-39). Paul expounds on this further in his appeal to the Romans to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. (Rom 12:2) Thus, we preach love and not hate, not repaying evil with evil, but to consider what is noble for all, striving to live peaceably with all (Rom 12:17-18). The death penalty breeds resentful and vengeful hearts. It does not a community make. We preach sharing of God’s providence and bounty that all may be fed, clothed, enjoy the comforts of a home and be free from sickness and thirst (Matt. 25:31-40).

God of life, lead us to peace and justice. Amen.