GMA LIFTS MORATORIUM ON EXECUTION OF DEATH CONVICTS

MALACANANG, December 6, 2003  (Office of the Press Secretary) Statement of the President Re Death Penalty:

"I shall no longer stand in the way of the executions scheduled by the courts for January 2004. Much as I am averse, as a matter of moral principle, to the taking of human lives in this manner—the President must yield to the higher public interest when dictated by extraordinary circumstances. The pain of victims of heinous crimes has spread all over the national community and I shall not turn my back against the cry for just retribution under the law. I seek understanding from those who may detract from my decision. It is time for me to take a stand for the people".

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today lifted the moratorium on the execution of death convicts as a deterrent to the commission of heinous crimes and give justice to the victims.

In another move, the President granted conditional pardon with parole conditions to 12 prisoners.

"Much as I am averse, as a matter of moral principle, to the taking of human lives in this manner, the President must yield to the higher public interest when dictated by extraordinary circumstances," the President said.

The President indicated that the incidence of heinous crimes has increased and she could no longer ignore the suffering of the victims as they cry out for justice.

"The pain of victims of heinous crimes has spread all over the national community and I shall not turn my back against the cry for just retribution under the law," the President said.

She asked for understanding from the pro-life advocates who may disagree with her decision.

"It is time for me to take a stand for the people," she clarified.

The President’s move came in the wake of a resurgence of kidnapping-for-ransom incidents and bank robberies over the past months.

She earlier reactivated the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF) and named former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes as head of the elite unit to run after the kidnap syndicates.

Two convicted kidnappers are scheduled to enter the lethal injection chamber at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City on January 30.

The Supreme Court has affirmed the capital punishment on 165 inmates, 32 of whom have warrants of execution.

The execution of death convicts by lethal injection was suspended shortly after Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo took over the reins of governance in January 2001 following the downfall of the Estrada presidency.

The last to be executed before the moratorium took effect was rapist Alex Bartolome who was given the lethal injection on January 4, 2000.

In a press briefing at Malacanang, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said most of the pardoned prisoners were over-age, while some were seriously ill as reported by three physicians.

Those who regained their freedom were Maximo Barcena Amoy, Benjamin Fernandez Abiog, Roberto Espiso Segovia, Julian Gozado Fernandez, Jose Decena Deleverio, Nestor de la Pena Virina, Montano Atayan Catli, Silverio Aloba Pastor, Eleuterio Jeray Raptus, Lucio Zata Martinez, Edizon Burco Ruanto and Teofilo Cruz Fernandez.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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