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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

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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