Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Philippines abolishes death penalty

The Philippines Congress yesterday abolished the death penalty, repealing the 1993 legislation that reintroduced lethal injection.

More than 1,000 prisoners on death row will now be spared execution with their sentences commuted to life imprisonment without parole.

The Senate voted 16-0, with one abstention, to pass the abolition bills. Within hours the House of Representatives also passed the bills, which now go to the President for signature.

"Victory of life"
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today celebrated the move as a "victory of life".

The President said in a statement posted on her website: "We celebrate the victory of life as I thank Congress for its immediate action in abolishing the death penalty law. But make no mistake about it, the abolition of the death penalty will be complemented by a stricter and sterner enforcement of the law in all fronts.

"This is not a victory for criminals as some would claim, but rather, clear proof that Filipinos respect and value the sanctity of human life and uphold the virtue and religious doctrines that are expected of us as a dominant Christian nation," she said.

She also said the government would improve the country's jail facilities to create an environment that is more conducive to prisoners' rehabilitation and reformation.

Last week, Mrs Arroyo wrote to Senate President Franklin Drilon calling for the urgent passage of the abolition bills before the adjournment of Congress this week.

In a letter sent to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, the President pointed to the urgent need for "abolishing death penalty as its imposition was shown to have not served its principal purpose of effectively deterring the commission of heinous crimes".

She also said abolition would "remedy the findings that death penalty is anti-poor as the underprivileged who cannot afford the services of competent counsels are oftentimes the ones convicted of death penalty".

On 15 April, the President announced that the government would commute death sentences to life imprisonment. The following week she certified as urgent a bill abolishing the death penalty.

Supporting "retribution"
Philippines Protestant churches yesterday reaffirmed their support for the death penalty.

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) issued a 3-page statement supporting the death penalty as retribution for a "short list of capital crimes".

PCEC national director Evangelical Bishop Efraim Tendero said the death penalty was justified by the Bible.

"The massacre of civilians must be punishable by death. Capital crimes, or those that led to loss of other lives, deserve capital punishment. A man who takes away the life of another forfeits his own," the statement said.

The PCEC statement stands in stark contrast to the position of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, which has campaigned strongly in favour of abolition.


Celia said...

That is absolutely fantastic! Really something to celebrate.

Three cheers for the Philippines decision to abolish the death penalty!

How many countries does this leave in the world with the death penalty now? I think there are only 20 or so?

Anonymous said...

A new online community of anti-death penalty activists and organizations was recently formed here . We're trying to use the space to connect organizations and activist online to coordinate actions and provide blogs and organizations with a new targeted audience for their messages. Please take a moment to check it out.

ANTITODO said...

It`s true. The Phillipines death penalty ablition is a very good news. but don`t delude about it: this country abolished death penalty one day, but recovers it another. Sorry for my sad english but I`m a anti-death penalty chilean man and don´t speak your langauge.

greetings from Chile