Philippines: Congress should block effort to reintroduce death penalty

5 December 2016


Philippines: Congress should block effort to reintroduce death penalty


We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, express serious concern over the rapid efforts by members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to adopt a bill restoring the death penalty in the country.


On 29 November 2016, the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms of the House Committee on Justice, which is chaired by Congressman Marcelino “Ching” Veloso, approved a bill restoring the death penalty in the Philippines by railroading the proceedings in the committee and ignoring important questions from other lawmakers questioning the need for the legislation or its urgent passage.


The decision to approve such a bill by the sub-committee was done with so much haste that there was not even a report presented, as is the normal practice, on the discussions and information presented in the previous hearings.


The Philippines is a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which means that it is obliged not to carry out executions within its jurisdiction and not to reintroduce the death penalty.


The Philippines has always been viewed as a regional and global leader on the drive to abolish the death penalty around the world. Bringing back the death penalty into its laws would be an enormous step backward for the country, signaling a comprehensive degradation of respect for the right to life and other international legal obligations.


The UN General Assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions by overwhelming majorities, calling on all States that retain the death penalty to impose a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it.


We categorically and absolutely oppose the death penalty in any and all circumstances and consider its use to be a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.


It cannot be emphasized enough that significant and overwhelming evidence shows that the death penalty is not effective at deterring crime at a greater rate than alternative forms of punishment.


We call on the Government of the Philippines to instead invest in improved detection and investigation techniques and capacity, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system. These measures are more likely to achieve real results in reducing crime.


We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to ensure their discussions in the next few days on this bill restoring the death penalty are based on evidence and facts.


We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines not to view this as a purely political exercise and instead seriously consider not only what the impact of the passage of this bill will have on the international obligations of the Philippines, but also on how it would affect the notions of justice and human rights in the country.


We appeal to members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to stop further attempts to reintroduce the death penalty and to block any legislation that subverts human rights.




  1. Alcohol and Drug Foundation (Australia)
  2. Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance Against Mining) (Philippines)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (Russia)
  5. Artikulo Tres Human Rights Alliance Inc. (Philippines)
  6. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
  7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  8. Ateneo de Davao Legal Aid Office (Philippines)
  9. Bernice C. Mendoza, Lawyer (Philippines)

10.Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Canada)

11.Centro de Investigación Drogas y Derechos Humanos (CIDDH) (Peru)

12.Charles Hector, Human Rights Defender and Lawyer (Malaysia)

13.Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific

14.Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Puerto Rico

15.Collectif français Libérons Mumia

16.Commission on the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) (Indonesia)

17.Death Penalty Focus

18.Defend the Defenders (DTD) (Philippines)

19.Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

20.FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

21.Focus on the Global South

22.Forum Droghe – Italia (Italy)

23.Housing Works (United States)

24.Human Rights Online (Philippines)

25.In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (Philippines)

26.Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (Indonesia)

27.Indonesian Legal Roundtable (Indonesia)

28.Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) (Indonesia)

29.International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP)

30.International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

31.International Drug Policy Consortium

32.International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT)

33.Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Australia)

34.LBH Masyarakat (Indonesia)

35.M.Ravi, Human Rights Advocate (Singapore)

36.MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)(Malaysia)

37.Malaysian Bar

38.Mamamayan Tutol sa Bitay (Philippines)

39.MARUAH (The Working Group on an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism-Singapore)

40.Mary Jane N. Real, Women”s Human Rights Advocate (Philippines)

41.Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, and Nationalism (MABINI)(Philippines)

42.NGO 4 Life (Montenegro)

43.Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (Colombia)

44.Penington Institute (Australia)

45.Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

46.Philippine Human Rights Information Center PHILRIGHTS

47.Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)(Philippines)

48.Reprieve (Australia)

49.Reseau d’Alerte et d’Intervention pour les Droits de l’Homme (RAIDH)

50.Ricardo Fernandez, Lawyer (Philippines)

51.Romanian Harm Reduction Network (Romania)

52.Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) (Philippines)

53.Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)

54.Social Watch (Benin)

55.Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l’education du Niger (SYNAFEN)

56.Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (Taiwan)

57.TB/HIV Care Association (South Africa)

58.Todung Mulya Lubis, Lawyer (Indonesia)

59.Tyrell Haberkorn, Political and Social Change, Australian National University

60.Union contre la Co-infection VIH/Hépatites/Tuberculose (UNICO)(Ivory Coast)

61.Vietnam Independent Civil Society Organizations Network (VICSON)

62.Vietnamese Women for Human Rights

63.WANEP GUINÉE-BISSAU (West Africa Network for Peacebuilding) (Guinea Bissau)

64.We Believe in Second Chances  (Singapore)

65.West Africa Drug Policy Network (Ghana)

66.World March of Women (Philippines)

67.Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (Zimbabwe)




Media Statement – 5/10/2016


ADPAN (The Anti Death Penalty Asia-Pacific Network)  is pleased that members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership includes 37,000 lawyers and hundreds of other legal professionals,  will be voting for the abolition of the death penalty at their Annual General Meeting on 7/10/2016 (The Japan Times and The Guardian, 21/9/2016). We hope that this Resolution and/or Declaration will be approved with an overwhelming majority, if not unanimously.

The Malaysian Bar, whose membership now is about 17,000 practicing lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia, adopted a Resolution in March 2006 at its Annual General Meeting calling for the abolition of the death penalty, and for a moratorium on execution pending abolition. Since then, resolutions for the abolition of the death penalty have been tabled and adopted by the Malaysian Bar over the years re-affirming its membership’s commitment towards the abolition of the death penalty.

A resolution of a Bar Associations, adopted by its membership, is a very powerful statement which demonstrates clearly that it is not just the Bar, but that its members are  also  clearly for the abolition of the death penalty.

This JFBA resolution and/or declaration of members will be a strong statement to the Japanese Government, now led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has sadly executed about 16 persons since 2012. There are presently about 124 inmates on death row in Japan.

The risk of miscarriage of justice, and innocent people being executed became a major concern since 2014 after Iwao Hakamada was released having spent more than 45 years on death row. He had been  sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders two years earlier of a company president, his wife and their two children. The presiding judge, Hiroaki Murayama, when releasing Hakamada in 2014 also had this to say, “There is a possibility that [key pieces of] evidence have been fabricated by investigative bodies.

ADPAN  calls on  the Japanese government to heed the call of JFBA and its members , and  abolish the death penalty.

ADPAN also hopes that Bar associations, civil society organisations, political parties, trade unions and groups  in Asia-Pacific nation states will also pass similar resolutions at General Meetings calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

Charles Hector

Fifa Rahman


For and on behalf of ADPAN



The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is a regional network of organization and individual members committed to working for the abolition of the death penalty in Asia-Pacific



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Twitter: @adpanetwork




Media Statement (5/8/2016)


ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asia Network) is shocked that the Philippines seems adamant about moving forward with plans to re-introduce the death penalty. The death penalty has been suspended since 2006, and Philippines is  now considered an abolitionist country.

On 28 July 2016, the newly convened Philippine Congress heard a proposal to re-impose the death penalty for “heinous crimes”, giving priority to President Rodrigo Duterte’s push for capital punishment in its first legislative session.

Since late June 2016, House Bill No.1 and several other Bills seeking to re-introduce the death penalty have been filed for consideration of the Philippines Congress. These Bill seeks to reimpose capital punishment for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, plunder, treason, parricide, infanticide, rape, qualified piracy, bribery, kidnapping, illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, car theft, destructive arson, terrorism and drug-related cases.

ADPAN is hopeful that Filipinos and lawmakers that are abolitionist will prevail, and death penalty will not be reintroduced in this ASEAN nation.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the measure is anti-poor and that the death penalty has not been proven to deter heinous crimes. “What deters the commission of crimes are certainty of apprehension, speedy prosecution and inevitable conviction once warranted,…The death penalty is anti-poor because indigent and marginalized accused cannot afford the high cost of [top] caliber and influential lawyers to secure their acquittal.”

Senator Leila de Lima, who continues to oppose the death penalty, is proposing a law to impose “qualified reclusion perpetua” for those found guilty of heinous crimes. Those punished with “qualified reclusion perpetua” would not be eligible for parole at all.



The Philippines signed International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on December 19, 1966 and ratified it on October 23, 1986. It signed the Second Optional Protocol on September 20, 2006 which explicitly forbids states who have ratified it from conducting executions within their respective jurisdictions: “No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.”

However, it provides for one exception: Countries who expressed reservations only during the time of ratification or accession may resort to the death penalty in times of war for those convicted of “a most serious crime of a military nature committed during wartime.”. Philippines cannot claim the exception because it did not make this reservation when it ratified the Second Optional Protocol.

As, such the re-introduction of the death penalty would also be considered a violation of international law.



ADPAN joins Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for Human Rights, in urging  Phlipines ‘to remember the experience of Mongolia, which first abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes in the 1950s, then reintroduced it, before deciding, last December, to once again stop executing people. In reaching the decision, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said the people of Mongolia had suffered enough from the death penalty. In his words: “Removing the death penalty does not mean removing punishment. Criminals fear justice, and justice must be imminent and unavoidable. But we cannot repair one death with another.” ‘

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added, ‘Fear, despair and frustration clearly prevail among all Filipinos amid a rise in crime and drug-related offenses. But it is the duty of political leaders to adopt solutions to the country’s challenges in ways that will support the rule of law and advance the protection of human rights…The arguments are convincing and decisive: On every level—from principle to practice—use of the death penalty is wrong.



ADPAN reiterates that there are no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime. As an example, in Malaysia in 2012, despite the existence of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, it was revealed in Parliament that there was in fact an increase of the persons arrested for  drug trafficking.

The possibility of miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable. There has just been too many cases, where persons who have languished on death row for decades have been released. We recall that in January 2011, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice admitted that Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the Air Force, had been executed in error in 1997 for a murder committed 15 years previously.

The global trend has been towards abolition. Philippines did us proud, when it abolished the death penalty in 2006, and it is hoped that Philippines will reaffirm its commitment to abolition when it stands strong and rejects attempts to re-introduce the draconian death penalty.

ADPAN urges the Philippine lawmakers to opposes attempts to bring back the death penalty,


Charles Hector

For and on behalf of

ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asia Network)