Duterte defends death penalty, questions God’s presence
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - September 26, 2016 - 7:22pm

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday questioned those who are opposing death penalty and asked them if their stand would be the same if God did not exist.

Speaking to the members of the Malacañang Press Corps after the oath-taking of Palace journalists' groups, Duterte first lamented that Filipinos no longer believe in the law because of the absence of fear. He then defended the reimposition of death penalty, saying the Catholics would say there used to be death penalty in ancient times but it did not work.

According to National Statistics Office data from 2010, around 80 percent of Filipinos identify as Roman Catholic.

The president explained death penalty is not working because it was never imposed and the faithful are impeding its implementation with the issue of morality. He said critics of death penalty may point to convicted rapist Leo Echagaray’s execution via lethal injection in 1999 as an example of capital punishment that was not able to eradicate crime.

“Then, I can simply say hindi tumalab ‘yung death penalty noon kasi hindi in-impose. Every president along the way would just say, one, because of the Catholic Church. Second, the bleeding hearts, because only God can kill. Ang problema niyan I ask you, what if there's no God?” he said.

Duterte questioned the combination of morality and the judicial system and continued to doubt the presence of God amid criminality, violence and other sufferings. He said the people allow criminality with the knowledge that there is God but asked what if there is no God.

"So, where is ... God when a one-year-old baby... 18-months... year-old baby is taken from the mother's arms brought under a jeep and raped and killed. So where is God?" Duterte asked, citing rape and killings, as well as women and children victims in atrocities in Syria and rape victims of  Islamic State Group.

"So where is God? My God, where are you? I believe in God but that is my perpetual question to him. Where were you when we needed you?” the president added.

Duterte told Catholics that it is not enough to say God will come to judge the living and the dead when there are heartaches, sorrow and agony inflicted upon human.

The president has been pushing for a reimposition of the death penalty, a move that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez included in his list of priority legislation when he was elected to lead the House of Representatives in July.

Prior to the presidential campaign, several Catholics slammed Duterte for cursing Pope Francis when he narrated his ordeal during the papal visit when several roads were closed. He has since apologized for his remarks to the pontiff.

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