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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…

Palace: 'We can claim mercy' for OFWs on death row

Jakatia Pawa
Jakatia Pawa
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reacts to a CBCP official who says the Philippines will lose 'any moral authority and legality to ask clemency' for Filipinos on death row if it restores the death penalty

Following the death of Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jakatia Pawa who was executed by hanging in Kuwait, several groups again urged the government not to revive the death penalty in the country.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for instance, said on Thursday, January 26, that Pawa's death "should make us all advocates against the death penalty."

In a CBCP News article, Bishop Ruperto Santos of the CBCP's Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People was also quoted as saying the government should not push through with death penalty because its reimposition will result [in] the country losing "any moral authority and legality to ask clemency for our Filipinos who are sentenced to death."

Reacting to the CBCP, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Saturday, January 28, said that when it comes to seeking clemency for OFWs on death row, "we cannot claim ascendancy, but we can claim perhaps clemency and mercy depending on the merit of each case."

"We understand where the CBCP is coming from. However, we also have to understand that certain countries, especially those in the Middle East, condemn certain alleged crimes. But we have to understand that they operate from a different set of rules," Abella said in an interview with government-run radio dzRB.

He added: "They don't go by Western civil law. They go by Shariah, for example. They have different procedures. We're not saying we're not going to fight for that. However, we cannot claim ascendancy, but we can claim perhaps clemency and mercy, depending on the merit of each case."

Pawa, a 44-year-old mother of 2, was executed on Wednesday, January 25, even as she asserted her innocence in the murder of her Kuwaiti employer's 22-year-old daughter. Her execution caught the Philippines off guard.

Abella said the Philippines hired "top caliber lawyers" for Pawa's case.

"The case really seemed to be tilted against her. But we do not neglect the situation of our fellow Filipinos abroad."

Restoring capital punishment for heinous crimes is a priority measure of the Duterte administration, whose ongoing war on drugs has killed more than 7,000 people in the last 6 months.

Source: rappler.com, January 29, 2017

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