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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Philippines: Lifting of death penalty is Congress' call, says Palace

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
Malacanang on Monday said that it was up to Congress to decide on the restoration of death penalty in the country.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the remark after presumptive president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte indicated his call for the restoration of the death penalty.

"Lifting of the death penalty requires that the present law be amended. It is best that this be tackled by the next Congress," Coloma said in a text message.

A report by Unang Balita said that Duterte wanted to revive the death penalty for heinous crimes including robbery with rape.

Since the start of his term, President Benigno Aquino III has maintained his opposition to death penalty.

In 2014, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino "has reservations" due to flaws in the judicial system.

"Concerned tayo doon sa judicial system, hence, he [Aquino] has reservations on death penalty. To the best of my knowledge, that position remains the same," Lacierda said then.

Although death penalty was abolished in the 1987 Constitution, it was reinstated through Republic Act 7659, which imposes capital punishment on certain heinous crimes, and RA 8177 provides for lethal injection as the means of carrying out the death penalty.

In 2006, then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346 abolishing death penalty in the Philippines by repealing RA 7659.

Source: gmanetwork.com, May 16, 2016


Philippine bishops tell Duterte not to play God

Lipa archbishop says he will offer himself to be executed in place of those the government will hang

Several Philippine Catholic church leaders are tamping down the plan of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to revive the death penalty once he assumes office on June 30.

"Only God has power over life. God gives life and God takes life. No one should play God," said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga.

The prelate, who heads the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said life is sacred and should be "promoted, respected, and protected."

In his 1st press conference since election day, Duterte said he will ask Congress to pass a law that will restore the death penalty for certain crimes.

"What I would do is to urge Congress to restore the death penalty by hanging," said Duterte.

He said death by hanging will instill fear among criminals and is "virtually painless (because) once the spine is ripped off inside it's over, just like putting off a light."

The former mayor of Davao, who has been dubbed "The Punisher" for his tough stance on crime, said criminals involved in illegal drugs, gun-for-hire syndicates, and those who commit "heinous crimes" will have to face the death sentence.

The Catholic Church has been against reviving capital punishment.

Bishop Santos said instead of reviving the death penalty, Duterte should instead initiate prison reforms and review the country's justice system.

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said he will volunteer himself to be executed in place of those the government will hang.

"Didn't Christ do that?" Archbishop Arguelles asked, adding that if the new administration revives capital punishment "Catholic Philippines will be merciless in the Year of Mercy."

The Philippines placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 2001 and 5 years later downgraded the sentences of 1,230 death-row inmates to life imprisonment in what Amnesty International described as the "largest ever commutation of death sentences."

Source: ucanews.com, May 16, 2016

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