Death penalty in the Philippines

Wednesday, February 24, 1993 - 11:00

Death penalty in the Philippines

By Emlyn Jones

After six years of bitter debate and opposition, the death penalty has been reintroduced in the Philippines. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, headed by Pablo Garcia, rushed for a quick vote on the bill, which was supported by Fidel Ramos.

Capital punishment was outlawed by the 1987 constitution ratified by the Aquino government. However, it contained a clause allowing Congress to reimpose it for cases involving "heinous crimes".

Opposition to the reintroduction came from many different quarters, including the Catholic Church. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines gave a number of reasons for its position, including research done by the United Nations in 1988 which failed to prove that executions have a deterrent effect on crime.

It is argued that the death penalty is also heavily biased against the poor of the country, who cannot, unlike wealthier sectors, buy themselves freedom. Nor is there any possibility of reprieve for those subsequently proved innocent.

Finally, the council argued that execution prevents the repentance and rehabilitation of offenders, is contrary to Christian love and violates the sanctity of human life.

Readers wishing to protest against the reintroduction of capital punishment can write to President Fidel Ramos, Malacanang Palace, Manila, Philippines.

From GLW issue 89