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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Proponents have the number to pass bill, solon says [/box]

MANILA — The Catholic Church will exhaust all legal means if and when the death-penalty bill is enacted into law.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’s (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care, said among the Church’s options is to question its constitutionality at the Supreme Court (SC).

In a related development, the Liberal Party (LP) maintained its stand against the bill even as a party-list representative said his pro-death penalty colleagues have the numbers to pass and approve the controversial measure.

“We will go to the Supreme Court. We will exhaust all legal means available because we believe that it is unconstitutional. It is cruel. It is inhumane,” Diamante said during a recent Tapatan forum in Manila.

Diamante said the Church can wait for a “test case” of a person being included in the death row.

“We can do it when a person convicted and penalized with death penalty files a case with the SC and say that it is unconstitutional,” he said.

This way, Diamante said, the case won’t be dismissed because there is a victim.

The CBCP official said another option is for lawmakers who ratified the country’s international treaty obligation against death penalty to question it before the SC since they can easily invoke the violation of the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“The argument could be that since the country has already signed the treaty, a senator can easily claim that he/she is affected since he/she was among those that ratified it. Therefore, they can file a case before the SC,” said Diamante.

Church to use all legal ways to oppose death-penalty law

According to the church official, the Church is also seeking the opinion of the international community on the matter.

Meantime, Abang-Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, who is anti-death penalty, said that his colleagues pushing for the contentious measure have the numbers to pass it.

“Kung ako tatanungin niyo (If you will ask me), the ‘yes’ vote in the House has the numbers. May numero na (they have the numbers),” said Paduano, vice chair of the Committee on Natural Resources and a majority member of various committees.

“I’m a member of the Visayan bloc. Last week we had a meeting. Out of 41 congressmen of the Visayas bloc headed by Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, anim lang siguro kami na ‘no’ (only six of us voted ‘no’),” Paduano said.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party (LP) maintained its stand against the re-imposition of the death penalty.

“This has been our stand since 2006 when we voted to abolish the death penalty, and the reasons for our vote remain: It has repeatedly proven to be ineffective, it is overwhelmingly inflicted on the poor and powerless, it is imposed by a fallible and flawed justice system, and it violates international laws the Philippine nation has sworn to abide by,’’ the LP said. (Manila Bulletin)