Wednesday, November 30, 2005  

Pimentel: It's a dead ..... law, it's time to kill it .. 
By Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Juliet Labog-Javellana
Inquirer News Service

IT HAS BECOME A DEAD LAW and it's time to repeal it, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday after President Macapagal-Arroyo reportedly pledged to Spain that she would not execute a Spanish-Filipino convicted of the rape and killing of two sisters.

      Amid Pimentel's call for the abolition of the law on capital punishment, the distressed mother of the murdered Chiong sisters appealed to Ms Arroyo in a letter not to buckle under foreign pressure and to uphold Philippine law.

      "Being a mother yourself, I have no doubt that you can understand the grief and sorrow of a mother who has lost two exceptionally wonderful and God-fearing daughters," Thelma Chiong said in her letter.

      The two victims were sisters Jacqueline, 23, and Marijoy, 20.

      The Inquirer obtained a copy of Mrs. Chiong's letter from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), one of the groups in favor of the death penalty.

Philippine sovereignty
      "I am deeply pained by these reports. I have practically dedicated my entire life to seeing to it that those who are guilty would face the death penalty for the crime they have committed," Chiong said in her letter.

      "To undo the entire judicial process because of undue pressures exerted by other countries, which constitute an unwarranted encroachment on our mmmm

sovereignty as a nation, would be highly prejudicial not only to our family, but more particularly to the entire justice system of this country," she said.

      Chiong told the Inquirer she was beginning to question the justice system in the country.

      "We fought hard just to get justice for my daughters," she said.

6 years on death row
      The Spanish newspaper El Pais, in a report posted on its website, said Ms Arroyo told Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono during his visit to Manila last week that the death penalty imposed on the Spanish-Filipino would not be carried out "while she is President. "
      Along with the Spanish-Filipino mestizo Francisco Juan (Paco) Larraņaga, five other people, including another son of a wealthy Cebu clan, were condemned to die by lethal injection.

      Larraņaga, now 26, has been on death row for six years, along with the others.

      Pimentel, author of a Senate bill seeking the abolition of capital punishment, said Ms Arroyo's position was a virtual admission that the death penalty was not an effective deterrent to crime.

Idle death chamber
      "If the government does not want to implement the death penalty law, having realized it is inherently wrong, then the only logical course of action is to have it repealed," he said.

      Ms Arroyo's refusal to implement the death penalty also reflects badly on her because she is mandated to enforce the laws, Pimentel said.

      "But by repealing the death penalty law, there will be no more criticisms that the President is reneging on her responsibility to implement the laws," he said.

      "And we will see an end to an abnormal and ridiculous situation wherein the criminal offenders are slapped with the death sentence, death convicts continue to swell our prisons, but the lethal injection chamber remains idle."

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