Catholic schools in the Philippines are being encouraged to be active in the promotion of "pro-life" education among the youth especially with the impending passage of a bill that will re-impose capital punishment and the government’s on-going war on drugs.
"I hope our Catholic schools' teaching is clear, that Catholic principles of faith and morality go together, [and] you can't just pick out what is convenient," said Father Melvin Castro, spiritual director of the group Prolife Philippines. The priest, who used to head the Commission on Family and Life of the bishops' conference, noted that most legislators who voted for the restoration of the death penalty come from Catholic schools. "The deeper reality is, even among Catholic politicians, Catholic teachings are not clear," said Father Castro. "I hope this will be addressed by the Catholic schools," he said, adding that it is "not an imposition."
The House of Representatives of the Philippines approved a proposal in March to reinstate the death penalty, paving the way for capital punishment to be restored more than a decade after it was abolished, under pressure from the church. The return of the death penalty has been a top priority for President Rodrigo Duterte, who was swept to power on promises of a merciless war on drugs, crime and corruption. According to police data issued this month, nearly 9,000 people, most of them drug users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office in June, 2016. The death penalty bill still requires approval of the Senate before the President can sign it into law. Bishops of the predominantly Catholic country of Asia have spoken out against the death penalty as well as Duterte’s ruthless war on drugs.
John Bernard Caasi, who teaches literature and religion at a Manila school, is also of the opinion that academic institutions should help students to become "critical consumers of information." He said teachers, even in secular schools, should arouse curiosity among students and help them understand issues like abortion, reproductive health, death penalty, and euthanasia. "They have to be aware about the value of life and how the state can protect or undermine it," said the teacher. (Source: UCAN)