Philippines Congress votes to abolish death penalty, decision hailed by papal nuncio

.- The papal nuncio in the Philippines, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, has applauded the government’s decision to abolish the death penalty, reported the Associated Press. The papal nuncio functions as the Pope’s representative in a given country.

Congress approved the bill last week, despite protests from relatives of crime victims. The bill will be sent to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be signed into law. Arroyo has previously backed efforts to abolish capital punishment. In April, she commuted several death sentences.  

Archbishop Filoni said Monday that the move reflects the government's respect for life.

"It is a sign of profound human sensitivity capable of judging the administration of justice according to criteria of healing rather than vindicating as well as of respect to those who have unfortunately violated the dignity of life itself," he reportedly said.

The 1987 Philippines Constitution abolished the death penalty laws that dictator Ferdinand Marcos had used to execute about a dozen people convicted of rape and drug charges. Congress restored the death penalty in 1993 for heinous crimes such as murder, child rape, and kidnapping. Seven people had been executed under the current death penalty law.

The decision would take about 1,200 convicts off of death row.

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