Duterte camp: Pope's anti-death penalty call may not be about us
(Philstar.com) - June 23, 2016 - 8:51pm
Davao City — The camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte believes that Pope Francis was not referring to the Philippines when he issued a statement against death penalty, which the next administration is planning to impose to punish criminals.
“I don’t know if it is in direct reference to the government’s position. Is it? I don’t think it was,” incoming presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
“In general, as you very well heard RRD (Rodrigo R. Duterte) in his speech in Saragani, he did say his view on death penalty is that it is retribution. It is clear where he stands,” he added.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis maintained that death penalty goes against God’s plan and applies to both the guilty and the innocent.  
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also stressed that capital punishment promotes vengeance rather than justice
“It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal,” the pope said in a video message sent to the delegates of the sixth World Congress against capital punishment in Oslo, Norway.
“Indeed, nowadays, the death penalty is unacceptable, however, grave the crime of the convicted person,” the pontiff added.
A total of 140 nations, including the Philippines, have abolished death penalty. This may change soon, however, as the revival of capital punishment is a priority of the incoming Duterte administration, which has vowed to suppress crime in three to six months.
Death penalty was scrapped in 1987 during the presidency of Corazon Aquino but was revived six years later under her predecessor Fidel Ramos. Crimes that were punishable by death include kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking and rape.
Capital punishment was abolished anew in 2006 under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a devout Catholic.  
Duterte, a Catholic who claims to be a believer of God but not of religion, said death penalty is more of a retribution for criminals rather than a deterrent.
"Death penalty to me is the retribution. It makes you pay for what you did," he said.  
Abella, a former pastor, said he expects critics and supporters of capital punishment to have a “conversation” about the issue.
When asked how Duterte intends to push for death penalty in a predominantly Catholic country, Abella said: “I’m sure there will be conversation regarding that. The conversation has to go through a process.
“Definitely, there is a goal and the law must be imposed and implemented to its full powers, to its full limits,” he added.
“There is law and it is a deterrent. But if the law is broken, there should be order.”
Duterte will have at least two former preachers in his Cabinet. They are Abella, who founded the religious group The Jesus Fellow Inc. and a former rebel Catholic priest turned provincial mayor, Leoncio Evasco, who will serve as secretary to the Cabinet.

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