Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Philippines: "Pro-death penalty bill could be passed in 3 to 4 months"

Drug pushers found carrying packs of “shabu” worth P4 million in their car by Quezon City Police, Philippines.
Drug pushers found carrying packs of “shabu” worth P4 million in their car
by Quezon City Police, Philippines.
A bill calling for the revival of the death penalty may be passed by the House of Representatives within the year, after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, its staunch proponent, sought the help of the chamber's leaders to pass it, a lawmaker said Thursday.

In an interview, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said passing the bill "is doable in three to four months," adding that he expects around 80 percent of his colleagues to vote for the bill during congressional deliberations.

Suarez was among the lawmakers Duterte met in Davao City last Tuesday to discuss the bills he would certify as urgent. Also in attendance were House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, among others.

Suarez said the proposed measure reinstating capital punishment is the first priority bill Duterte — the outgoing mayor of Davao City known for his strong anti-crime stance — wants to be passed.

"Ang una ay ‘yung death penalty. He mentioned how serious this problem [on criminality] was already," he said.

The Quezon lawmaker, a stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is eyeing to become the Minority Floor Leader in the incoming 17th Congress, while Alvarez has picked Fariñas to become the Majority Leader.

Since Duterte’s allies in the Senate and House of Representatives have clinched the support of a “super majority” of their colleagues, Suarez said the legislative branch should be able to fast track the passage of a measure on capital punishment.

Death by hanging

During their meeting in Davao City, Suarez recalled that Duterte expressed preference for carrying out the death penalty through hanging rather than lethal injection.

He said the President-elect was convinced that bringing back capital punishment would go a long way in curbing criminality.

"He articulated on the death penalty, saying it will be a strong deterrent if we will be hanging 50 [persons] a month," Suarez said. "Ang sabi pa nga niya kung hindi niya maso-solve ang criminality, mahihirapan siyang magawa ang mga gusto niya sa gobyerno."

Asked on how Duterte would be able to carry out his goal of executing 50 convicts monthly considering that obtaining a conviction for death penalty takes years, Suarez said what the President-elect likely meant is the swift elimination of drug lords.

“What he’s (Duterte) saying is elimination of big drug lords ASAP. If I can read between the lines, palagay ko regardless of how he’ll do it, he will be Machiavellian. The end justifies the means,” he said.

Expect a showdown

For his part, Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon believes passing a pro-death penalty bill could hit a few bumps even if Duterte’s allies gain control of Congress.

"I think there’s going to be a showdown on the death penalty. Even if there’s a super majority in Congress, the public will [not] take this sitting down. I’m quite certain interest groups like the Church, human rights organizations— including those within Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) — will be going to the streets and protesting," he said.

While admitting that he will no longer be part of the next Congress, Ridon said he is sure the progressive Makabayan bloc would remain critical of the measure even if it joins the super majority coalition.

"I'm quite certain that members of the Makabayan bloc— assuming they will be part of the majority— will raise the difficult questions on death penalty, particularly on the question of how we can be certain that those who will be subjected to it ought to be convicted for their crimes," he said.

Source: GMA News, June 9, 2016

Drug lords want Duterte, new police chief dead for $1.1m

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
The incoming chief of the Philippine National Police said that drug lords who want him and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte dead have increased the bounty to their heads.

Incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) director Chief Supt. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa remains unfazed by the reported assassination threats against him and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

In an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” on Thursday, Dela Rosa said that the bounties for him and for Duterte had been raised from 10 million pesos (US$218,000) to 50 million pesos (US$1.09 million) because there were no takers.

“As of yesterday [Wednesday], they increased the bounty to 50 million pesos. Fifty million pesos for Mayor Duterte, 50 million pesos for me. They increased it because they could not find any takers. No takers wanted the 10 million pesos, so they increased it to 50 million pesos,” Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa earlier claimed that the bounties were offered by drug lords incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prison.

“Bring it on, really. Bring it on. Okay, it has gotten bigger—50 million. Okay, you come. Bring it on anytime—anytime of the day, any place,” he said.

The former Davao police chief has shrugged off the threats against him, even joking that he is “not that handsome” to fear death.

“Am I that handsome that I would be afraid to die? I am not afraid to die,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Dela Rosa vowed that with or without the 5 million-peso bounty offered by Duterte for the death of drug lords, he would stamp out illegal drugs and criminality.

“Whether there is a 5 million-peso reward or not, those drug lords will be killed if they fight,” he said in a separate Radyo Inquirer interview.

The President-elect first broached the idea of a 5 million-peso bounty for the killing of a drug lord during his thanksgiving party in Davao City last weekend.

“If you kill a drug lord, you will receive 5 million pesos. If a drug lord is arrested alive, the informant receives just 4,999,000 pesos,” Duterte told a crowd of around 500,000 people during his victory party at the Crocodile Park.

He also said that he would offer millions of pesos worth of bounty to anyone who could kill or arrest drug traffickers.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aries Joseph Hegina, June 9, 2016

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