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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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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…

Duterte’s War On Drugs In Philippines Would Mean More Executions If Capital Punishment Is Reimposed

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte
The Senate of the Philippines suspended a hearing into a bill for reinstating death penalty Tuesday after officials expressed concerns over an international treaty that bars the country from reimposing the capital punishment.

"We are suspending because there is a supervening event — the treaty of international convention on civil and political rights [of the United Nations Human Rights Office] — which states that all executions should not be continued, was ratified," said Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

However, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said that the Philippines should first withdraw from the treaty before the discussing about reimposing the punishment, which was abolished on June 24, 2006, by the then-President Gloria Arroyo.

"We have ratified the treaty and we have concurred in ratification with the treaty. If you're saying we can withdraw from this, shouldn't we withdraw from the treaty first before we discuss any matter related to the reimposition of death penalty? So that we will not be in violation of international law?" Drilon said.

In December, Human Rights Watch urged the Philippines to not reinstate death penalty.

“The Philippine government should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and reject any moves to reinstate it,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director, said in a statement at the time. “The failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent is globally recognized and the government should maintain the prohibition on its use.”

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte — who assumed office last June — has launched the so-called war on drug dealers in the country. The possibility of the reimposition of death penalty has raised concerns that his government will be able to execute more people in the drug war.

Within six months of taking office, Duterte’s drug war killed nearly 6,000 people, according to a December report by Al Jazeera. Of those, 2,041 drug suspects were killed during police operations from July 1 to Dec. 6, while another 3,841 were reportedly killed by unidentified gunmen from July 1 to Nov. 30.

Source: International Business Times, February 7, 2017


Pacquiao is Firm: Drug Traffickers Deserve The Death Penalty!


Senator Manny Pacquiao
Senator Manny Pacquiao
Eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao is once against pushing for a law that would impose the death penalty on drug traffickers in the Philippines.

Pacquiao, who last year became a senator in his country, once again defended the controversial bill on Tuesday during the first public hearing of the Senate justice and human rights committee on the proposed death penalty bill.

“Drug traffickers deserve the death penalty. We need to take a firm stand against drug traffickers. On a personal level, I can forgive. However, the heinous crime of drug trafficking is committed not just against a person, but against the nation. Drug traffickers deserve the death penalty,” Pacquiao said, according to GMA News.

Pacquiao, who one aspires to become the President of the Philippines, is the author of three death penalty bills on crimes involving drugs, kidnapping, and aggravated rape. "There is now a need to enact a measure that will decisively repress drug trafficking,” Pacquiao said. “We cannot ignore the immensity of the drug problem in our country. We cannot maintain the status quo. We need to take a firm stand against drug traffickers."

Source: Boxing Scene, Edward Chaykovsky, February 7, 2017


Pacquiao: Death penalty for drug traffickers


Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao on Tuesday called for the reimposition of the death penalty anew saying a it should focus on drug trafficking violations.

For Pacquiao, drug traffickers deserve death penalty because he considers their acts heinous crimes.

The senator said he filed Senate Bill 185 or the "Act to impose the death penalty and increase the penalty on certain dangerous crimes, amending for that purpose other special penal laws and for other purposes" because the country is facing immense challenges from trafficking and drug abuse.

He said these crimes have created an emergency situation that now merits urgent action.

"On a personal level, I can forgive. However, the heinous crime of drug trafficking is committed not just against a person but against the nation. Drug traffickers deserve death penalty," he said in his opening statement at the Senate hearing into proposals to revive the death penalty.

Pacquiao authored three separate death penalty bills on heinous crimes involving dangerous drugs, kidnapping and aggravated rape. He however said the death penalty must focus on drug trafficking because he believes combining it with other crimes will complicate the definition of heinous crime.

He said a separate death penalty bill will be unburdened by the lengthy consideration of other offenses. Pacquiao added that the Senate cannot allow the compelling nature of imposing death penalty on drug trafficking to be weighed down by less compelling reasons for other offenses.

Drug mule Mary Jane Veloso is currently on death row in Indonesia.
Mary Jane Veloso is currently on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking.
"It is more beneficial and practicable if we do it on a per crime basis and not bundle it with other crimes...To bundle it with other crimes will dilute arguments and complicate definitions in determining whether a particular crime is heinous or not because offensive acts may be of different characters," Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao cited a Dangerous Drugs Board statement in 2011 that 80 % of crimes are drug-related. A Reuters report in October 2016 said that government officials "could not say where the data came from to back up" that particular claim.

Pacquiao then enumerated some related news headlines to back his claims.

It can be recalled that Pacquiao visited the Filipina death-row inmate Mary Jane Veloso in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to show support for her in July 2015. Veloso was convicted of drug trafficking but was granted a last-minute temporary reprieve.

During the proclamation of elected senators last May, Pacquiao already said he favors the return of the death penalty saying capital punishment is actually based on the Bible.

Source: Philippine Star, February 7, 2017

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