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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Philippine Congress "has authority to re-impose death penalty"

Philippine Congress
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Thursday said Congress had the authority to re-impose the death penalty if there were compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.

Panelo made this comment as the Senate announced its resumption of hearings on the revival of the death penalty within this month.

He said that while Section 19 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution prohibited the imposition of the death penalty, the same provision authorized the Congress to pass a law which re-imposed death penalty "for compelling reason involving heinous crimes."

"In other words, the Congress has the authority to re-impose the death penalty, provided that, it finds compelling reasons involving heinous crimes therefore," Panelo said in a press statement.

Contrary to critics' claims, Panelo explained that re-imposition of the penalty was not inconsistent with the Philippines' treaty obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

"The said instrument allows the imposition of the death penalty and only limits its application to the most serious crimes," he said.

He also explained that treaties could not be in conflict with the country's Constitution which "has higher authority over any legal instrument whether it be passed or ratified by the Congress."

Panelo said while the 2nd optional protocol of the ICCPR mandated the abolition of death penalty, the ICCPR still could not, however, prevail over Congress' authority to re-impose capital punishment.

"Treaties ratified and incorporated and made part of the law of the land are only given equal standing with, and are not superior to our laws," Panelo said.

"Hence, like any other law, a treaty may be repealed by a later act of Congress if it deems that such is warranted under the present circumstances or is violative of our Constitution," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency, January 11, 2018


Filipino senators give death penalty proposal thumbs down


Bill to bring back executions will likely be killed and not even pass committee stage, they say

A proposal to restore capital punishment in the Philippines is as good as dead, according to legislators in the country's Senate.

The majority of senators, who are supposed to look at a bill to reinstate the death penalty, have expressed doubt over whether the bill would pass.

"Based on our informal consultations, we don't have the required numbers to pass the death penalty bill in the Senate," admitted Senator Panfilo Lacson, one of the authors of the proposed law.

The legislator said it would be a waste of time to tackle a bill that will only be defeated when the time to vote comes.

He advised Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of a Senate subcommittee tasked with scrutinize the measure, not to rush a vote on the death penalty, saying the proposal will likely be defeated.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the proposed law is not even on the legislative agenda of the administration party.

The Senate body under Pacquiao is set to discuss the issue this month, but Drilon expressed doubt whether the bill could go to a vote even at the committee level.

The re-imposition of capital punishment was a campaign promise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who vowed to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs and heinous crimes.

In March last year, the House of Representatives passed a measure allowing capital punishment for drug-related offenses.

Allies of Duterte in the Lower Chamber of Congress railroaded the passage of the proposal amid a howl of protests from opposition congressmen, nuns, and activists.

Under the Philippine system, a proposed bill has to pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can be signed into law by the president.

The proposed law passed by the House lists 7 drug-related crimes as punishable by death, excluding possession for personal use.

Rape and murder are not included among capital crimes.

Catholic Church leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the proposed measure, saying that capital punishment is "an additional burdensome law" that will not deter crime.

In an interview on Jan. 12, Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said church leaders "will not give up in engaging our lawmakers in working for justice that heals and respect the dignity of the human person."

"We hope and pray that the members of the Senate will vote in accordance with their conscience," he said.

The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 1986. It was restored in 1993 and was suspended again in 2006.

Source: ucanews.com, January 11, 2017


Most senators oppose death penalty-Lacson


Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday admitted that holding public hearings on the reimposition of the death penalty would be a "waste of time" since majority of his colleagues are against the revival of capital punishment.

Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, who has been assigned to head a panel under the Committee on Justice, will conduct next week a public hearing on 8 pending measures reviving the death penalty since its chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, is opposed to the reimposition of capital punishment.

"Based on our informal discussion at the session hall and at the lounge, it is really difficult to get the required number to pass the death penalty bill at the Senate," Lacson said in a media forum.

"It will be a waste of time," he added.

Senator Manny Pacquiao
Lacson suggested that the Senate should tackle bills that have the chance to be approved instead.

"If I were Sen. Pacquiao, I will first assess how many votes I will get. Do I have 12 votes to pass the Senate's death penalty version?" he said.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd instructed Pacquiao to conduct the hearing after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez criticized the upper house for its failure to approve the death penalty bill which the lower house already passed.

But Lacson said the Senate should instead focus on the passage of the proposed national identification (ID) system and the amendments to the Dangerours Drugs Act.

The 8 pending measures on death penalty revival are Senate Bills 4, 42, 185, 186, 187, 889, 985, and 1294 filed separately by Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Pacquiao, and Lacson.

Legal


Restoring the death penalty law is within the bounds of the Constitution, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo maintained on Thursday.

Panelo cited Article 3, Section 19, of the Constitution which states that "excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted" and "neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it."

"The Constitution says it can be done. Besides, a treaty can never be superior to the Constitution," Panelo said.

Panelo was referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was signed by the Philippines.

"The same treaty cannot prevail over the authority of Congress under the [Philippine] Constitution to reimpose the death penalty if it determines that there are compelling reasons to penalize or prevent the commission of grievous, odious and hateful offenses that equate to heinous crimes," he said.

Article 6 of the said covenant reads provides: "in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court."

The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006.

Source:  Manila Times, January 11, 2018


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