THE PHILIPPINES. PRESIDENT WOULD SUPPORT BILL TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY
April 18, 2006: President Gloria Arroyo would support legislation to abolish the death penalty despite widespread public support in the Philippines for judicial executions, her spokesman said.
"The president's moral compass clearly indicates that no executions will take place under her term. And she is prepared to certify legislation to abolish the death penalty," her spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.
Arroyo sparked a bitter national debate three days previously when she announced she would commute the death sentences of the nation's 1,200-plus death row convicts to life terms.
While the move was welcomed by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the decision has been attacked by anti-crime groups and Arroyo's political opponents, who have accused her of using the issue to foster political support.
Bunye said Arroyo, who survived an impeachment vote last year over allegations of election fraud, made the decision not to allow any executions "as a basic moral issue affecting pro-life values," and not for political gain. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 18/04/2006)