state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 11 February 1987
legal system: Based on Spanish and Anglo-Saxon systems
legislative system: bicameral Congress (Kongreso) consists of the Senate (Senado) and the House of Representatives (Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan)
judicial system: Supreme Court whose justices are appointed for four-year terms by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council; Court of Appeals
religion: 83% Catholic; 9% Protestant; 5% Muslim; 3% Buddhist and other minorities
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
On June 24, 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law abolishing the death penalty. Philippine legislators had passed the bill to abolish capital punishment on June 6. On June 7, President Gloria Arroyo congratulated Congress “for deciding to abolish the death penalty” and gave assurances to the people that it was not a sign of being weak on crime.
The decision to abolish the death penalty had been preceded by notable stands taken on the death penalty by President Arroyo. On February 22, 2006, for the first time since taking office in 2001, the President categorically stated that she was for scrapping capital punishment and that she would see to the immediate passage of legislation to abolish the Death Penalty Law. On February 15 Arroyo had ordered prison authorities to commute the sentences of 280 people on death row to life imprisonment. On April 15, 2006, Arroyo commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment. The announcement was made in an Easter message the President addressed to the nation. In the address, the President said that those who have made a mistake need to have a chance to redeem themselves for any evil done. “Whilst we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I would like to announce our decision on those sentenced to death. We will commute their death sentences into life imprisonment”. Around 1,280 convicts benefited from the decision.
A new Constitution had abolished the death penalty in 1987, but gave Congress the option of restoring it for "heinous" crimes. Alarmed by a rise in crime, lawmakers did just that in 1994 making it applicable for 46 crimes. Capital offences punishable by death under the 1994 law included non-violent crimes such as embezzlement of 50 million pesos or more of state funds. Drug laws were later made more stringent. The President, elected in 2001 and then reconfirmed in 2004, has swung both sides of the issue throughout her years in office. On the one hand, in December 2003 Arroyo decided to lift the moratorium on executions established by then President Joseph Estrada in 2000. Her decision came after a surge in kidnappings for ransom and other violent crimes which led to an outcry from the business community, particularly the economically-influential Filipino-Chinese who were being targeted. On the other hand, in order to remain faithful to her principles, Arroyo inaugurated what her spokesperson Ignacio Bunye would call a “case by case moratorium,” that is to say the suspension of all scheduled executions one at a time. The general moratorium was restored in November 2004 but convicted kidnappers and drug traffickers were declared except from the measure on February 22, 2005. However, on October 28, 2005, reiterating its call for the government to abolish death penalty, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care (CBCP-ECPPC) pushed for reforms in the penal system and called on the faithful to be more compassionate towards their brothers in prison.
On December 19, 2016, for the first time, Philippines abstained on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly. Previously, Philippines always co-sponsored and voted in favour.