Death Penalty in the Philippines
Sources: Amnesty International, PCIJ, OPS
Last updated: May 20, 2008
According to the 1987 Constitution,
Art. III (Bill of Rights), Sec. 19.
(1) Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
In mid-1987, a bill to seeking to reinstate the death penalty for 15 'heinous crimes' including murder, rebellion and the import or sale of prohibited drugs was submitted in Congress.
In 1988, the military started lobbying for the imposition of the death penalty. Then Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Fidel Ramos was prominent among those calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty for rebellion, murder and drug-trafficking. The military campaign for the restoration of the capital punishment was primarily against the CPP-NPA, whose offensives then included urban assassination campaigns.
Anti-death penalty groups including Amnesty International opposed the bill, but the House of Representatives voted for restoration by 130 votes to 25.
Three similar bills were put before the Senate. After a bloody 1989 coup, President Aquino certified as urgent one of these bills on the prompting of Ramos. The said bill again proposed death penalty for rebellion, as well as for sedition, subversion and insurrection.
The Senate suspended the vote on death penalty for a year
The Senate did not agree to move to a decision.
A series of high profile crimes during this period, including the murder of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, created public impression that heinous crimes were on the rise. The Ramos administration succeeded in restoring death penalty.
President Fidel Ramos during his first State of the Nation address declared that his administration would regard the restoration of the death penalty a legislative priority, and urged Congress to take speedy action.
Ramos signed into Republic Act 7659, the new death penalty law, on December 13, 1993.
Republic Act 7659 took effect on January 1, 1994.
Republic Act No. 8177, which mandates that a death sentence shall be carried out through lethal injection, was approved on March 20, 1996.
Seven death convicts were executed during the Estrada administration before he announced a moratorium on executions.
Leo Echegaray, 38, was executed by lethal injection on February 5, 1999. He was the first to be executed after the Philippines restored death penalty. It was the Philippine's first execution in 22 years. Six more men followed within the next 11 months.
On March 24, 2000, Estrada imposed a de facto moratorium in observance of the Christian Jubilee Year. He also granted 108 Executive Clemencies to death convicts.
On December 10, 2000, Human Rights Day, Estrada announced that he would commute sentences of all death convicts to life imprisonment. He expressed his desire to certify as urgent a bill seeking a repeal of the Death Penalty Law.
Please see Gloria Arroyo on death penalty--a timeline
While the Arroyo administration has been characterized by a flip-flopping stand on death penalty, no death convict has been executed under her watch.
Voting separately, the two Houses of Congress on June 6, 2006 repealed the death penalty law.
Arroyo signed Republic Act 9346 on June 24, 2006. The law prohibited the imposition of the death penalty.