The following is the full statement issued by the University Student Government (USG) to Congress regarding their opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty and the Batang Bilanggo Bill. It is entitled A Manifesto of Young Lasallian Leaders Against Death Penalty and Batang Bilanggo Bill and is addressed to the lawmakers of the 17th Philippine Congress.
“Dear Representatives of the Filipino People,
We, the youth leaders representing the students of various De La Salle schools, with the mandate to give voice to our fellow students’ concerns, reaffirm our Lasallian core values of Spirit of Faith, Zeal for Service, and Communion in Mission and so commit ourselves to creating just and humane conditions for the last, the lost and the least.
We oppose the restoration of the Death Penalty and the Batang Bilanggo Bill (BBB). We are convinced that these measures that are currently on the agenda of the 17th Congress do not provide the long-term solutions to the problem of criminality in our country. We urge Congress to create legislation that will protect life and promote the excellence and dignity of every person.
The bills that seek to restore the death penalty and lower the age of criminal responsibility are instruments that serve only to instill fear. There is no evidence that supports that such measures deter persons from committing criminal acts. Rather than these punitive measures, we strongly advocate for laws that are founded on restorative justice. We ask Congress to set into motion the creation of comprehensive rehabilitation programs that seek to restore to persons their capacity for good and their sense of health and well-being.
The creation of a better society does not hinge on the elimination of those who are deemed to be lawless. The good in every person and the potential of every Filipino to contribute to the growth of our nation can be realized better if the communities and environments they live in are supportive of growth. For this reason, we ask that Congress create and strengthen the systems that support the Filipino family. Through such agencies as the Department of Social Welfare, we see the potential for families to be assisted in the proper rearing of and care for their children; and for communities to evolve into more caring and hospitable places to live.
It is inevitable that the problem of criminality, for it to be addressed comprehensively, will involve an examination of our judicial system. We urge Congress to begin the process of reviewing how the judicial system in our country can be supported so that the fair and speedy administration of justice can be accomplished. In so doing, we hope to restore as well the confidence of every Filipino in this important branch of government that is entrusted with the duty to uphold the rule of law and make effective the good these laws were created for.
There is an inherent openness to good in every person. We believe that it is the mission of Congress to create laws that will allow the good in every person to emerge. We ask Congress to empower your constituents to act for the good.
We, the young Lasallian leaders of the Philippines, pledge our support to help create these communities where young people can discover their excellence and become a true resource for building up our nation.”
Read about the USG’s visit to Congress and the signatories of the statement here.