Filippino President Gloria Arroyo has signed a bill banning the death penalty as she prepares for a visit to the Vatican. Critics have accused her of taking the decision to win support from the Church to institute other reforms. “We shall continue to devote the increasing weight of our resources to the prevention and control of serious crimes, rather than the lives of those who commit them,” she said at the signing ceremony. The new law saves more than 1,200 convicts on death row from a lethal injection.
Arroyo had already begun to soften the Philippines stance on capital punishment. In April she commuted all death sentences to life in prison and since 2001 she has declined to authorise any executions. The country, whose government and legal system is based on the US model, had allowed the lethal injection for murderers, kidnappers, drug traffickers and rapists.