Senator Manny Pacquiao has invoked the Bible in support of reintroducing capital punishment, saying that even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death.
Speaking to reporters today (Tuesday, January 17) the boxer-turned-pastor-turned-senator said it was clear in the Bible, which he claims to read every day, that the “death penalty is allowed”.
He said: “The Bible says ‘do not kill’. In the past it means that if you sinned against me, I cannot kill you. Let the authority handle that. We’re not talking about individually, but we’re talking the law of the land, which is approved by God and instituted by God. The government is instituted by God.
“Even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death by the government.”
Despite drawing such a stark distinction between legally imposed executions and killings by individuals, Pacquiao remains a staunch supporter of the war on drugs, in which more than 6,000 have been killed without trial.
Pacquiao also said that lawmakers should not be guided by their consciouses on the issue: “What is your basis to oppose it? Because of your religious beliefs or because of the Constitution? The Constitution allows the death penalty for heinous crimes.
“You are not a good leader if you are making decisions with your own conscience. This is not about what you feel. You should not focus on your own interests but on the Filipino people.”
In a Senate speech last August, again peppered with Bible verses, Pacquiao had invoked divine approval for the death penalty. “Are we greater than God because God is allowing death penalty in every nation and country?” he asked.
However, Pacquiao’s scriptural analysis is at odds with the opinion of Manila Archbishop Cardinal Tagle.
Last month the church leader released a prayer against the death penalty, which he wanted said in Masses throughout the Christmas season.
A section of the prayer reads: “There is in our land a cry for vengeance and a move to fill up death rows and kill offenders but disguised as a call for justice.
“Help us to work tirelessly against state-sanctioned death and to renew society in truth, justice, love and respect so that violence will cease and peace may prevail.”
Restoring capital punishment for a whole host of crimes including murder and drug possession has long been a high priority for President Duterte.
The president’s allies, who dominate the House of Representatives, are confident that a capital punishment bill will be passed this year.
However, critics say that in a country with such a famously corrupt police force and legal system, any introduction would be fraught with danger.
Before the capital punishment was scrapped in 2006, the Supreme Court found that more than 70 per cent of death penalty verdicts were wrong.
It was also found that the death penalty most affected the poor. During the early 2000s, more than 70 per cent of death row inmates belonged to the lowest income classes, while less then one per cent came from the upper socio-economic class.