Philippine Standard Time
Monday, June 10, 2019, 2:18:54AM

In Defense of the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines

A study by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Dr. Christopher Ward, SC, Australian Bar, Adjunct Professor, Australian National University


Trump administration carries out 13th, final federal execution
Aljazeera |, January 16, 2021
A federal judge has granted a stay of execution for the only woman on federal death row pending a competency hearing
CNN |, January 12, 2021
Asian Nations Reject UN Vote Against Death Penalty
Human Rights Watch |, November 24, 2020
Holy See: ‘Death penalty the most shocking thing in the world
Vatican News |, October 10, 2020
Tunisia president calls for return of death penalty following brutal killing
The Guardian |, October 01, 2020
Kazakhstan takes important step towards abolishing death penalty
Amnesty Internatonal |, September 24, 2020
US Bishops stress opposition to death penalty
Independent Catholic News |, September 23, 2020
‘Travesty of justice’: Reaction to execution of Iranian wrestler
Aljazeera |, September 14, 2020
Unpacking public opinion on the death penalty
Asia Pacific Forum |, July 28, 2020
The Florida Supreme Court’s U-turn on the death penalty
Tampa Bay Times |, May 28, 2020
Man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom
BBC News |, May 20, 2020
Saudi Arabia ends death penalty for crimes committed by minors
The Guardian |, April 27, 2020
Catholic leaders praise abolition of death penalty in Colorado
CRUX |, March 25, 2020
Colorado Abolishes Death Penalty and Commutes Sentences of Death Row Inmates
The New York Times |, March 23, 2020
UK urged to act over men facing death in Egypt for alleged childhood crimes
The Guardian |, March 08, 2020
Berlin International Film Festival: Iranian film about executions wins top prize
BBC |, February 29, 2020
Trump condemned after claiming very powerful death penalty would reduce drug dealing
The Independent |, February 11, 2020
Outsourcing injustice: Guantanamo on the Euphrates
Al Jazeera News |, February 04, 2020
British Isis prisoners may end up in Iraq, where death sentences are handed down without due process
Independent |, February 02, 2020
Saudi Arabia executed record number of prisoners in 2019: Report
ABC News |, January 14, 2020
Death Sentence Overturned for Pervez Musharraf, Ex-Leader of Pakistan
The New York Times |, January 13, 2020
Japan executes foreigner for first time in a decade
Independent |, December 26, 2019
The Khashoggi verdict is exactly what impunity looks like. It must be denounced.
Agnes Callamard, Opinions, Washington Post |, December 24, 2019
5 foreigners in drug case could face death in Indonesia |, December 18, 2019
Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan ex-leader sentenced to death for treason
BBC News |, December 17, 2019
Botswana urged to abolish death penalty after latest execution
The Guardian |, December 09, 2019
I Oversaw Executions. We Cannot Resume the Federal Death Penalty
New York Times |, December 04, 2019
Americans Now Support Life in Prison Over Death Penalty
Gallup News |, November 25, 2019
UN criticizes Irans use of death penalty against minors
DW |, October 24, 2019
The Death Penalty for Drugs: What Public Opinion Surveys in Asia Teach Us
Giada Girelli, Filter Mag |, October 17, 2019
Malaysia: Unfair trials, secretive hangings and petty drug convictions reveal ‘cruel injustice’ of the death penalty
Amnesty International |, October 10, 2019
Against the death penalty: barrister Julian McMahon
ABC Radio |, July 25, 2019
Malaysia’s repeal of death penalty opens deep wounds, including that of Mongolian model murder
The Independent|, July 09, 2019
Why is Sri Lanka reinstating death penalty?
DW|, July 07, 2019
Debate on death penalty not very vigorous 1 year after Aum executions
Japan Today|, July 06, 2019
Prosecutor won’t seek death penalty in death of grandmother
News 4 Tucson|, July 06, 2019
SC issues Interim Order against death penalty
Daily FT|, July 06, 2019
Latter-day Saint Church defends involvement in death penalty case
Fox13 Salt Lake City|, July 06, 2019
Death penalty debate remains muted in Japan 1 year after AUM executions
Kyodo News|, July 05, 2019
Source: Govt will not table Bill to abolish death penalty this Parliament meeting
The Star|, July 05, 2019
The murder was caught on surveillance video. The accused now faces death if convicted
Miami Herald|, July 05, 2019
Sri Lanka- Supreme Court issues interim order against death penalty
MenaFN|, July 05, 2019
Jury to consider death penalty in Chinese scholar killing
Federal News Network|, July 05, 2019
As Malaysia eyes death penalty repeal, Al Jazeera documentary explores dilemma of capital punishment
Malay Mail|, July 04, 2019
Kentucky judge declares death penalty protocol unconstitutional
Crux Now|, July 04, 2019
Jose Martinez, The Hit Man Who Confessed To Killing Three Dozen People, Avoids The Death Penalty
BuzzFeed News|, July 03, 2019
Merced County DA is seeking the death penalty. And it could get costly, experts say
The Merced Sunstar|, July 03, 2019
Activists Hold Annual Fast Outside Supreme Court to Protest Death Penalty
Spektrum News|, July 02, 2019
Kentucky judge declares states death penalty protocol unconstitutional
The Courier Journal|, July 02, 2019
Lawmakers vote to substantially limit Oregon’s death penalty
Oregon Live|, June 29, 2019
Abolish the Death Penalty?
New York Times|, June 22, 2019
The Intercept|, June 18, 2019
In Los Angeles, only people of color are sentenced to death
The Guardian|, June 18, 2019
Poll finds Californians support the death penalty — and Newsom’s moratorium on executions
The LA Times|, June 17, 2019
Debunking the Court’s Latest Death-Penalty Obsession
The Atlantic|, June 17, 2019
Using Saudi death penalty vs. children is barbaric
CNN|, June 17, 2019
Reader reluctantly accepts governor’s death penalty moratorium
The LA Times|, June 14, 2019
Saudi Teenager Faces Death Sentence for Acts When He Was 10
New York Times|, June 09, 2019
GOP Lawmakers Are Quietly Turning Against the Death Penalty
The Atlantic|, June 07, 2019
Death knell: taking a stand to abolish capital punishment
Monash University |, February 26, 2019
Germany abolishes death penalty in public vote
Independent |, November 21, 2018
Pope Francis: ‘death penalty inadmissable’
Vatican News |, August 02, 2018
One Test Could Exonerate Him. Why Wont California Do It?
The New York Times|, May 17, 2018

Local News

House to revive death penalty hearings this week

August 02, 2020, Rappler

Mara Cepeda, Rappler, Aug 2, 2020 11:06 AM PHT

MANILA, Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte's allies in the House will discuss sentencing drug convicts to death right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic

The House committee on justice is set to begin debates on the return of the death penalty for certain heinous crimes on Wednesday, August 5.

The House panel scheduled the hearing for at least 12 death penalty bills filed in the lower chamber less than 2 weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte once again asked lawmakers to reinstate capital punishment via lethal injection for drug-related crimes in his 5th State of the Nation Address on July 27. 

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez already promised “thorough” debates on possibly sentencing drug convicts to death – signaling the leadership’s decision to hold these controversial hearings right in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. (READ: Duterte’s fight vs oligarchs, death penalty bill to distract Congress during pandemic)

Pro-death penalty bill legislators believe the return of the death penalty will not only be a way to exact payment from criminals, but supposedly also deter people from committing heinous crimes. (READ: An eye for an eye: Can the death penalty bring justice to victims?)

Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Ace Barbers, a principal author, already slammed critics of the death penalty bill over their “clamor for the human rights of offenders.”

“Unfortunately, while they talk about the human rights of the offenders, they remarkably skip talking about and defending the human rights of the victims,” Barbers said in a statement on July 31.

Barbers also disregarded the international treaties the Philippines have earlier ratified prohibiting the death penalty’s return once the legislation is already repealed. These are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 2 Optional Protocols.

“No country can dictate on another on how to run its affairs.  No amount of treaties and international agreements can take away the inherent right of one nation to govern within its territory, over its people.  Last time I checked too, this is called sovereignty.  That is why we have our own Constitution – and it allows death penalty,” Barbers said. 

Capital punishment was abolished in 2006 under the presidency of former House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a trusted ally of Duterte.

This is not the first time the House pushed for the death penalty under the Duterte presidency. In 2017, the lower chamber green-lighted the bill punishing drug-related crimes with death, but the measure was dead on arrival at the Senate. 

Another uphill climb?

But much like in 2017, it will be another uphill climb for the death penalty bills in Congress – even it is dominated by Duterte allies.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the lawmakers who staunchly fought against the death penalty revival 3 years ago, once again slammed the proposal.

The veteran lawyer turned lawmaker said the measure is an “affront to human dignity,” arguing there is no available empirical data proving the claim that capital punishment would stop criminals from committing heinous crimes. 

Lagman also said reviving capital punishment would only worsen the culture of impunity in Duterte’s bloody drug war, where thousands of drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings. 

“The death penalty desecrates the right to life which is sacrosanct and inviolable, and it is an affront to human dignity… The death penalty exacerbates the culture of violence and its revival adds to the unabated extrajudicial killings consequent to the Duterte administration’s deadly campaign against the drug menace,” Lagman said in a statement on July 31.

Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon – the first to file a death penalty bill in the current 18th Congress – also believes it is not the right time to pursue the measure.

He said the government should first focus on strengthening evidence-gathering of law enforcement before thinking about the death penalty's return.

“I filed a bill, HB (House Bill) 5408, proposing the establishment of single-party recording in pursuing against drug traffickers. In the United States, this is a widely used tool in the fight against drug trafficking which led to high number of arrests and high percentage of successful prosecution,” Biazon said on August 1.

“The penalty is important. But even before the penalty, a successful prosecution is much more important,” he added .

Senate President Vicente Sotto III already said the death penalty bills would pass only if the punishment is reserved for drug lords. 

Senator Nancy Binay also said Congress is in no business of talking about the death penalty now that Filipinos are still dying of COVID-19.

Confirmed cases are steadily surging in the country, with the Philippines tallying over 98,000 COVID-19 cases so far. Experts estimate the numbers may go as high as 150,000 by end of August if quarantine measures are not properly implemented. –

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