ARROYO: 2 CONVICTS TO BE EXECUTED THIS MONTH TO TEACH KIDNAPPERS A LESSON

MANILA, January 8, 2004
(STAR) Two convicts sentenced to death will be executed by lethal injection at the end of the month to teach kidnappers a lesson, President Arroyo announced yesterday.

"We will not block it if there is an approval by the Supreme Court," the President said without identifying the two convicts.

"I am saddened that we have to do this because I am pro-life, but there are circumstances and situations where you really have to do this because even when they are in jail, they can still operate their syndicates," she said.

Speaking over radio station dzRH, Mrs. Arroyo said the executions are expected to send a message to kidnapping gangs.

"I hope that after these two executions, they will learn their lesson and we can go back to our policy of no executions," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said she hopes the kidnapping menace would soon be eliminated by the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force headed by former defense chief Angelo Reyes.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo’s decision to execute convicted kidnappers was not politically motivated.

"The decision of the President has nothing to do with the elections," he said. "The decision is based on the realities on the ground that some cases have proliferated, and some counter-measures have to be taken."

"So far as the implementation of that order, I believe unless a reprieve is granted, the execution will push through, and the President said this morning that for cases of kidnapping which she considers very heinous crimes, the moratorium will not apply," he said.

Bunye said appeals of convicts’ relatives for a stay of execution would have to be reviewed on a case-to-case basis.

"These things have been reviewed by the SC and studied the cases, and they have actually affirmed the decision based on their judicious study of the case involved," he said.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Raul Roco said there are no evidence that crimes have abated while the death penalty had been in effect.

"The solution to criminality is the full and effective enforcement of the law," he said.

The death penalty, along with checkpoints and the national identification system, are three forms of "state terrorism" being implemented by the government purportedly to restore peace and order, he added.

Bureau of Corrections officials have said that the two unnamed prisoners will be put to death by lethal injection in the last week of this month, unless Mrs. Arroyo grants them a reprieve, or Congress passes a law abolishing capital punishment.

Last month, Mrs. Arroyo scrapped a four-year stay on executions after a surge in kidnappings and other violent crimes led to an outcry from the business community.

Mrs. Arroyo’s decision has angered the Catholic Church, which has consistently opposed capital punishment. — AFP, Marichu Villanueva, Sheila Crisostomo


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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