THE PHILIPPINES. LEGISLATURE PASSES LAW ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY
June 6, 2006: Philippine legislators have passed a bill to abolish capital punishment, and President Gloria Arroyo is likely to sign it into law, officials said.
The proposed law abolishing the "heinous crimes" act of 1994 passed without dissent in the Senate late Tuesday after a more contentious vote in the House of Representatives, they said.
Arroyo spokesman Ignacio Bunye told reporters the presidential palace "welcomes the passage of the bill abolishing the death penalty."
Passage of the law would automatically commute the sentences of about 1,200 death row inmates in the Philippines to life imprisonment.
Edcel Lagman, a senior legislator in the House, told reporters "studies show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to the commission of heinous crimes."
However, supporters of capital punishment warned of a crime backlash.
"I fear that the worst will happen to our country," legislator Miguel Zubiri said in a speech to the House during voting for the bill late on May 5.
"It looks like the criminals are going to celebrate tonight," echoed legislator Antonio Cuenco. Manila executed four convicted rapists and three highwaymen between 1999 and 2000 before the government imposed a moratorium amid pressure from the dominant Roman Catholic church, the European Unione and human rights groups. (Sources: AFP, 06/06/2006)