Monday, January 16, 2017

Protest to Philippine Parliament on Restoration of Death Penalty

ADPAN strongly urges all members of the Philippine House of Representative and Senate to reject the reinstatement of the death penalty and uphold the rights to life as enshrined in the Constitution.

 Reinstating the death penalty would violate Philippine’s international legal obligations, in particular, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country has ratified.

 The reasons behind the reinstatement of the death penalty are ill founded and purely a political one. Numerous studies and analysis have concluded that death penalty does not deter crime. Indeed, there has been no existing reliable evidence to prove otherwise.

 ADPAN also wishes to highlight that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has consistently called for the abolishment of death penalty on drug related offences, citing that such irreversible and oppressive laws are not an effective prevention and solution and it is not supported by international drug conventions.

 It is also to be noted that on 11th January 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Mr Wisanu Krea-ngarm had said that Thailand would eventually do away with death penalty by trying to amend the law to find alternative to the capital punishment, taking into consideration the global trend on abolition.

 The Malaysian government has also announced its intention to abolish the mandatory death penalty on drug offences while a comprehensive study is now underway that may also see the total abolition of the death penalty.

 Philippine, if successfully revive the death penalty, would not only move backward in its human rights standards and obligations, and would also not be in line with the progress made by its neighboring countries towards the eventual abolition of death penalty.

 ADPAN states its disappointment that this Bill to reinstate the death penalty is being rushed on 16 January 2017 when the House of Representative resumes, and urges all members of the House of Representative and Senate to consider it carefully and reject it, respecting and upholding the right to life.

 Ngeow Chow Ying

For and on behalf of the ADPAN Executive Committee

15 January 2017


The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is an independent cross-regional network committed to working for an end to the death penalty across the Asia Pacific region. ADPAN is made up of NGOs, organizations, civil society groups, lawyers and individual members, not linked to any political party, religion or government and campaigns against the death penalty. It currently has members in 28 countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, UK, USA.

Survey on Capital Punishment in Thailand

A large majority of people say the death penalty should continue to exist, and that rape followed by murder of the victim is the crime that deserves it the most, according to a survey by the National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA). The NIDA poll was carried out from January 9 to January 11 among 1,250 respondents who were aged 18 and over, from various levels of education and occupation throughout the country on whether the death penalty should be reviewed.
Asked whether the death penalty should stay, a huge majority, 87.1% said it should, only 8% said it should no longer be in force; and 4.8% were uncertain. Asked what type of crime they think most deserves the death penalty, 56.5% pointed to rape and murder; 22% mentioned repetition of serious crimes; 10.6 picked premeditated murder; 3.1% chose drug offenses; 2.48% opted for robbery and murder; 1.4% picked physical assault resulting in death; 1.1% went for corruption; 1.47% chose other crimes, such as terrorism, while 1.1% were uncertain.
Asked whether the death penalty should be executed without being commuted, 86.3% said “yes”; 11.2% picked “no”, saying that wrongdoers should be given a chance to make amends as they could have committed crimes unintentionally; and 2.48% were uncertain.
Those who picked not commuting the death sentence said Thailand’s law enforcement was not strict and leniency would only invite repetition of crimes.
Bangkok Post reporters; 16/1/2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

There is nothing more to say

The story behind the viral photo

/ 12:02 AM July 31, 2016
It was the third extrajudicial killing of suspected drug pushers that I covered on the graveyard shift last week.
Around 1:30 a.m. on July 23, upon arriving on Edsa Taft-Pasay Rotunda from another crime scene, I could already see the picture.
I knew this was different. In the middle of the police line in which photographers and bystanders are not allowed to cross was the lifeless body of suspected drug pusher Michael Siaron, cradled by partner Jennilyn Olayres. A cardboard sign that read “Drug pusher huwag tularan” (I am a drug pusher, don’t emulate) was left near the body.
An hour had passed after the shooting, according to witnesses. A gunman on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice fired on Siaron and left the cardboard sign beside him. Another person was wounded.
TV floodlights and news cameras popped and flashed as Olayres wept for Siaron while cradling him in her arms like Michelangelo’s world-famous sculpture “Pieta,” a depiction of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ.
I took many shots from a distance supported by the light from cameras illuminating Siaron and Olayres, which appeared very much like lighting from a theater stage. Hearing her pleading for help was gut-wrenching. I could do nothing but take more shots.
Talk-pieta2I saw no need to use a flash, as I needed to capture the dark-at-dawn atmosphere.
“That’s enough! And help us!” she cried out to media workers, authorities and onlookers.
I stopped taking pictures and looked for a policeman. I asked him, “What are you waiting for?”
The policeman replied: “We can’t do anything as he is already dead. Let’s wait for the Soco (Scene of the Crime Operatives).”
The members of the Soco team came several minutes late because they came from the same crime scene we covered earlier outside the Senate Building in Pasay City.
What could I do? It was heartbreaking but I knew I had to do my job. The crime scene still had to be processed. Evidence had to be gathered.
I climbed the overpass and took more shots: an overview of the scene with cars passing along Edsa, with a few motorists stopping and looking at the commotion, a crowd gathering around the body and Olayres laying Siaron down on the pavement and weeping.
Another report came—a body was found in Leveriza, Pasay City, the fourth on that shift. Many of my colleagues and I hurried off but we all had a heavy heart.
We were not able to take pictures of the male victim—the fourth in “Patay City” (a play on Pasay City, meaning city of the dead), as a radio reporter jokingly said—as the body had been removed from the crime scene. The victim, a mute, was shot and killed by a motorcycle-riding gunman, who also left a cardboard message near his body.
We were quiet as we went back to the Manila Police District, the office of graveyard-shift media workers. I lighted a cigarette to calm my nerves. Another photographer took deep breaths. Together, we recounted moments from the scene at Pasay Rotunda.
Another veteran photographer said, while shaking his head, “I no longer want to be a photographer.” We all had the same feeling of guilt.
We were unsure whether to submit the pictures for publication because we felt guilty for not being able to help the victim and his partner. We only took photographs.
I remember shaking my head, wiping off my sweat and processing what had just transpired in my head.
I told my colleagues: “Let’s file this. It’s our work.”
We may not have helped the victim and his partner but it is our job to show these pictures. We have to show reality as it is and perhaps, get people to react and even take action.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another Day in Philippines

Two lives are worth only two bullets
44 year old Domingo Manosca, a pedicab driver, had already surrendered to police under the government anti-drug campaign.
He was fixing a DVD player inside his house on 11th December when someone knocked on the plywood window of his house. When Manosca asked who it was, the gunman fired through the plywood panel. The bullet struck in the forehead of his four year old son who was asleep on the floor next to his mother and two siblings.
A second bullet hit Manosca in the neck, exiting through his cheek and killing him. His wife said he was not a pusher although he used "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) to stay awake and work longer hours.

Philippine Enquirer, 10th January

Monday, January 02, 2017

Starting the new year count in Philippines

A total of 2,169 people have been killed in “Operation Double Barrel,” the Philippine National Police’s anti-illegal drug campaign, in the past six months, official data showed.
Citing reports from its regional offices, the PNP also said 43,196 arrested in 40,420 antidrug operations from July 1, 2016 until 6 p.m. of Jan. 1.
Twenty-one policemen and three soldiers were killed, while 61 policemen and eight soldiers were wounded.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Pain of the Poor: Duterte, stop this slaughter.

                                                     Too poor to live, too poor be buried

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue without truce. The following account painfully recounts a campaign to eliminate drugs which has lost all reason. The poor and the innocent die, the rich escape. 
Gunmen hunting drug suspect kill 7
3 teenagers, pregnant woman among fatalities as main target escapes
Gunmen opened fire on two shanties in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, on Wednesday night while hunting down a drug suspect. Their target escaped, but seven people, including three teenage boys and a pregnant woman, were killed in the shooting. The victims were neither drug users nor criminals, their mothers said. Their only fault was that they were friends of the drug suspect. Seven people, including three teenagers and a pregnant woman, were shot dead on Wednesday night by armed masked men looking for a drug suspect in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

“These boys are innocent. They killed our boys,” the mothers of Jonel Segovia, 15; Sonny Espinosa, 16; and Angelito Soriano, 16; told the Inquirer.

According to the police, the gunmen’s real target was Jay-R Santor, a drug suspect who earlier surrendered to authorities under the government’s “Oplan Tokhang.”
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the masked men who were on motorcycles did not know where to find him so they fired into the two adjacent shanties in Phase 8, Barangay 176 owned by Santor’s parents.
The teenagers, along with their friends, Kenneth Lim, 20; and Edward Villanueva, 18; were in one of the shanties where a dance party was in full blast. Lim was also killed while Villanueva was wounded and taken to a hospital for treatment.
In the other shanty, three of Santor’s relatives—his mother Cristina, 45; brother Ednel, 22; and sister Analyn, 28, who was pregnant—died. Santor, meanwhile, reportedly escaped by diving into the creek behind their house.
“My son just turned 16 and they killed him like a chicken, as if he were an animal,” said Espinosa’s mother, Maria Isabelita.
When interviewed by the Inquirer, she, along with relatives of the other victims, were standing outside Crystal Funeral Parlor where they were begging authorities to release their kin’s bodies so that they could go to another establishment with cheaper rates.
According to the teenagers’ mothers, none of their children were drug users or had criminal records. Their only fault was being friends with Santor, they added, angry at claims that the boys were involved in the drug trade.
Espinosa turned 16 last month while Soriano turned 16 in September. Segovia, on the other hand, just turned 15.

Abby, Soriano’s sister, said
“But my brother does not use drugs. He does not even smoke cigarettes because one time, we caught him smoking cigarettes and we beat him up. So he stopped. Now they telling us he’s using drugs?” Abby said.
One thing the boys had in common was poverty, the reason why they were killed, according to Maria Isabelita, Espinosa’s mother.
“If the suspect is rich, they’re set free. If they’re poor, they end up sprawled on the street,” she said.

Maria Isabelita and the other relatives had another complaint as well. “Why do they want us to pay P40,000 when we can pay just P7,500 at another funeral home? We are poor, we don’t have money. Our children already died and they still want to rob us,” she said.
Hours after the massacre, she and the other kin of the victims were pleading with the police and employees of North Star Funeral Homes—the police-accredited funeral home which earlier picked up the dead—to turn over the bodies to them.
Since they were not given the right over their lives, maybe the families could have, at least, the right to handle their death?
When the funeral home refused, the families blocked the vehicles bearing their dead. “You cannot take them and make us pay a fortune. We have no money to pay you. Give us our dead,” said Segovia’s sister, Jenny.
However, the remains were taken to Crystal Funeral Homes instead. But before the bodies could be unloaded, the victims’ families arrived and blocked the process.
Another standoff started, this one lasting from midnight to 1:45 a.m. until the police and funeral home management relented, finally releasing the victims’ bodies.
Philippine Daily Enquirer, 30th December

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Pain of the Innocent

We oppose the death penalty as archaic and ineffective, it is inhumane and cruel beyond measure. But what of the execution of the innocent. Justice everywhere is fallible, even, or above all, when based on eyewitness account. There is a particular horror to execution of the innocent. An independent enquiry carried out by one European country, at a time when the death penalty was in use, reported a ten per cent error rate. Occasionally, by immense stamina of the condemned, by good fortune, and  by the lingering doubt of the judiciary, a death penalty is found to be fallacious.. Reading of such a case may help in a season of happiness to recall the ultimate injustice and the immense suffering entailed:            
Susan Kigula, of Ugandan origin, spent sixteen years in a prison in her country, including fourteen on the corridors of death.
In 2000, she was accused of killing her husband with a machete. She was 20 years old. No one wanted to believe her when she explained that burglars had entered her house in the middle of the night and assaulted her family, even though she was taken unconscious to hospital, with a severe neck wound.
Two years later, she was sentenced to death. "Waiting in prison for the final date, counting the days until death, suffering the anguish of never seeing her family again, is the worst," says the Ugandan woman.
"Hope gradually disappears.”
To ward off despair, Susan Kigula began to educate herself behind bars. She achieved the equivalent of a baccalauréat and thus gained access to higher education. "When a prisoner cannot read or write, she cannot even follow her own record or read her rights," explains Charlène Martin, head of the "Educate" program of the association "Ensemble contre la peine de mort".  Driven by a desire to see her daughter, aged one year at the time of her arrest, Susan Kigula completed law studies at the University of London, the same distance program that Nelson Mandela had followed.
"I was determined to learn, because it was the only way to fight my ignorance and thus escape death"
Based on her new knowledge, she was able to initiate a pioneering appeal before the Ugandan Constitutional Court, for herself, but also for 416 other individuals. The judges noted on 10 June 2005 that the systematic condemnation of the death penalty for certain crimes prevented taking into account of extenuating circumstances.
They also condemned the interminable waiting for a cruel and inhuman death.
Since her release in January 2016, Susan Kigula has been campaigning for abolition of the death penalty. She shares her experience with young pupils, "Education and awareness are the keys to success in the fight against the death penalty," she explains. "It is important for young people to understand the implications of a death sentence. It is an irreversible decision, a psychological and physical torture, a hidden vengeance of justice, the useless death of a possibly innocent human being." "Anyone can be sentenced to death for any crime, according to the law and the government of the country," says Susan Kigula. "It is enough that the evidence is convincing, even if it is manipulated or false." She wants to continue living in her country, even though Uganda has deprived her of sixteen years of life; "I've never been a criminal and I do not intend to be a criminal. We need to correct what is wrong for the country to move forward and provide a better future for its citizens" she declares.

Condensed from an account in "Le Monde", 21st October 2016   



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Women take a lead in opposing Duterte killings

President Duterte's policy of extrajudicial killing of alleged drug dealers is being fiercely opposed by two women who are influential politicians. The prominence of these women in opposing the murders is a wonderful expression of political action and bodes well for Philippine government. It is also appropriate that women, who give birth to all human life, take a lead in fighting for its preservation.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hecatomb of Duterte in Philippines grows

The bloody and chaotic campaign against drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte began when he took office on June 30. Since then, about 2,000 people have been slain at the hands of the police alone. The image above shows the location in 49 Manila killing fields where the bodies of 57 victims have been found  during 35 day investigation by a writer from the New York Times (December 7).
The mania of this modern Dr. Goebbels, is shown by his recent threat to include human rights critics who oppose his killings among his victims.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Update on restoration of death penalty in Philippines


The Subcommittee on Justice APPROVED the comprehensive substitute bill which reimposes the death penalty on heinous crimes* and drug-related crimes.

Voted for the approval of the comprehensive bill: (6)
Fred Castro (2nd District, Capiz), Sharon Garin (PL: AAMBIS-OWA), Gwen Garcia (3rd District, Cebu), Arthur Defensor (3rd District, Iloilo), Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District Pampanga), Vicente Veloso (Chair, 3rd District, Leyte)

Voted for the approval of the imposition of death penalty on drug-related crimes only: (5)
Eugene De Vera (PL: ABS), Luis Jose Campos (2nd District, Makati), Eric Singson (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Victoria Noel (PL: AN WARAY), Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte)

Manifested that they are AGAINST the death penalty: (2)
Rav Rocamora (Lone District, Siquijor),
Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte)

*Heinous crimes (according to the bill): Treason, Qualified Piracy, Qualified Bribery, Parricide, Murder, Infanticide, Rape, Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, Robbery with Violence against or Intimidation of Persons, Destructive Arson, Plunder, Carnapping