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Capital punishment in the Philippines: Wikis


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Capital punishment in the Philippines has a varied history and was abolished on June 24, 2006 (the second time after 1987).

Filipinos have mixed opinions about the death penalty, with many opposing it on religious grounds, with some supporting it as a way of deterring crime.


Spanish era until 1986

During Spanish colonial rule the most common method of executions were shooting by the firing squad (especially for treason/military crimes, commonly for independence fighters) and garrotte. A prominent example is the country's national hero, Jose Rizal. He was executed by firing squad on the morning of December 30, 1896 by the Spanish government. [1].

In 1926, under then colonial administration of the United States, the electric chair was introduced, which made Philippines the only country besides the United States to use electrocution. This kind of execution was used until 1976.

The capital crimes after regaining full independence were i.e. murder, rape and treason. A well-publicized triple execution took place in May 1972, when Jaime Jose, Basilio Pineda and Edgardo Aquino were electrocuted for the 1967 abduction, and gang-rape of the young actress Maggie dela Riva. Use of firing squad was also allowed for some cases.

Under the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos drug trafficking became punishable to death by firing squad. A notable execution was that of the drug-trafficker Lim Seng, whose death was broadcast on national television. Shooting eventually became the only method in use after electrocutions were halted in 1976. During Marcos' rule, however, countless more people were unlawfully executed for resistance towards his regime.

After Marcos was deposed in 1986 the new drafted constitution prohibited death penalty except for some certain crimes. That meant, in effect, that it was abolished totally and made Philippines the first Asian country to do so.

Reinstatement under Ramos administration

President Fidel V. Ramos promised during his campaign that he would support the reintroduction of the death penalty in response to increasing crime rates. The new law, drafted by Ramos, restored capital punishment by defining "heinous crimes" as everything from murder to stealing a car.

This law provided the use of the electric chair until the gas chamber (method chosen by government to replace electrocution) could be installed. However, the electric chair was destroyed some time prior due to a typhoon, leaving only a blackened scorch mark. Some sources have said it had burnt out the last time it had been used.

The first execution by injection took place under Ramos' successor, Joseph Estrada. Because the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, Estrada called a moratorium in 2000 to honor the bimillenial anniversary of Jesus' birth. [2] Executions were resumed a year later.

Estrada's own successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a vocal opponent, also approved a moratorium, but later permitted executions and denied clemencies.

Abolition under Arroyo administration

On April 15, 2006, the sentences of 1,230 death row inmates were commuted to life imprisonment, in what Amnesty International believes to be the "largest ever commutation of death sentences".[3] Capital punishment was re-abolished via Republic Act No. 9346, which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 24, 2006. The bill followed a vote held in Congress earlier that same month which overwhelmingly supported the abolition of the practice.[4] The penalties of life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua (indeterminate sentence, 30-year minimum) replaced the death penalty.[5]


Current Philippine embarkation cards still contains a warning to visitors about the death penalty for drug trafficking.

President Arroyo has controversially pardoned many prisoners including Former President Joseph Estrada who was found guilty of corruption in 2007 and all remaining convicted felons charged with the assassination of Former Senator and opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 2009.[6][7] Current Philippine embarkation cards still contains a warning to visitors about the death penalty for drug trafficking.


The Philippines was the only country except the United States which used the electric chair (1926-1976).

After reintroduction of the death penalty in 1993, the country switched to lethal injection.


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