Press Release
October 18, 2017

PGA Welcomes the Strong Opposition of the Senate of the Philippines to the Reintroduction of the Death Penalty

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) welcomes the decision of at least nine of the twenty-four Senators to speak out against the bill reintroducing the death penalty in Filipino law, more than ten years after it was abolished for the second time in the history of the country.

Among the nine parliamentarians who rejected capital punishment are PGA leading Member Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, and Sen. Leila de Lima, who was the victim of a politically motivated arrest earlier this year.

This development follows the overwhelming vote the House of Representatives on 7 March 2017, which approved the first bill of the Legislature, introduced by two majority MPs with the aim of reintroducing the death penalty in Filipino law. According to media sources, some Legislators had been threatened by the Speaker of the House and co-author of the bill that they would lose their positions in committees if they did not vote in favour of the bill.

The reintroduction of the capital punishment had been one of the electoral promises made by now President Rodrigo Duterte before his election in 2016, as a way to fight drug trafficking in the country, despite the fact that the Philippines have ratified in 2006 the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which bans the use of the death penalty. This treaty does not allow State Parties to withdraw from it, which would put the Philippines in violation of its international obligations if it were to reintroduce the capital punishment.

While thanks to the courageous stand taken by Senators it now seems unlikely that the death penalty will be reinstated into Filipino law, PGA calls on the parliamentarians of the Philippines to continue to hold their government accountable for its actions and to ensure that the human rights of all those under the jurisdiction of the Philippines are respected. Human Rights Watch estimates that since President Duterte took office in June 2016 more than 7,000 individuals have been victims of extrajudicial executions in the name of the "war on drugs".

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