Poe defends stand on death penalty


MANILA, Philippines — Presidential hopeful Sen. Grace Poe said Sunday that she is in favor of capital punishment only for those proven guilty of heinous crimes.

Poe raised her hand on Sunday night when asked, along with her fellow candidates at the presidential debate, if she supports the move to reinstate the death penalty.

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In an interview with reporters after the debate, Poe said her support for death penalty is limited to those convicted of "drugs and multiple crimes where involved people can no longer be rehabilitated."

"If through death penalty, we can create fears, though it's against my will, we have to do it," said Poe, who is educated in the United States where the death penalty is upheld.

"Capital punishment, however, should only be taken as a last resort," Poe said. "Congress should work first on reforms of the justice system as a priority, while the Public Attorney's Office should also be empowered with an increased budget and a team of competent lawyers to defend poor suspects."

The Philippines abolished capital punishment in June 2006 following a majority vote in Congress. Life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua replaced death penalty as the gravest penal sanction.

Poe's rival in the presidential race, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, also raised his hand in favor of reviving death penalty. The mayor's stand, meanwhile, was a reiteration of his earlier pronouncements on the subject.

In December last year, Duterte said he is for the public hanging of convicted criminals, such as those involved in drug-related activities. He also said in August last year that he will support execution of those found guilty of plunder.

In 2007, the United Nations approved a draft resolution calling for a universal ban on capital punishment. The resolution states that execution of criminals is a violation of human rights, with right to life as the most fundamental right. Other influential groups against death penalty are Amnesty International and the European Union.

The Roman Catholic Church, meanwhile, has a conditional position on the issue. Catholic teaching says that executing offenders should only be done if absolutely necessary and if it is the only means left to deter crime.  —Camille Diola with reports from PNA

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