The Philippines has edged closer to reintroducing capital punishment, with the Philippine House of Representatives voting overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that would allow the execution of criminals.
The bill, which forms part of president Rodrigo Duterte’s hardline law and order agenda, passed the lower house by a majority of 216-54, with one abstention. The Senate will now debate a counterpart bill that will allow the President’s proposed policy to become law.
The bill permits execution via hanging, firing squad and lethal injection. President Duterte spoken repeatedly of his desire to hang criminals, as many as ‘20 per day’.
Opponents spoke out strongly in the house, describing the measure as barbaric, regressive and no deterrent against crime. Representative Jose Christopher Belonte said lawmakers voting in favor would have "blood on our hands". Human Rights groups and the Catholic Church have also condemned the proposal, and have warned politicians to expect a backlash from their constituents.
It is not clear whether the bill will pass the Senate, with several representatives in the chamber, even some Duterte-loyalists, being opposed to the change.Capital punishment has been outlawed in the Philippines since 2006, when it was abolished by then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
A State Senator in Hawaii, Breene Harimoto gave an emotional address this week to persuade his colleagues to vote against a bill for legalising physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. He said that in 2015 he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which has a low survival rate and can be quite painful. But he was cured. “It is a miracle that I am still alive,” he said.
His point was that “terminal illness” is almost meaningless. Margaret Dore, a Seattle lawyer who lobbied against the bill, recalls an even more dramatic incident. “A few years ago, I was met at the airport by a man who at age 18 or 19 had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and given 3 to 5 years to live, at which time he would die by paralysis. His diagnosis had been confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. When he met me at the airport, he was 74 years old. The disease progression had stopped on its own."
If Senator Harimoto or Ms Dore’s friend had the option of assisted suicide, they might stopped fighting their disease and chosen a quick death. They would have chopped decades off their lives. “Terminal illness” is a pillar of assisted suicide legislation – and it just doesn’t make sense.
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