Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a law abolishing the death penalty on the eve of her trip to the Vatican, but vowed she would not relent in battling terrorists and criminals.
"We shall continue to devote the increasing weight of our resources to the prevention and control of serious crimes, rather than take the lives of those who commit them," she said yesterday.
Noting that she was signing the law a day after a car bomb killed six people in a southern Philippine province, Arroyo said: "We will never be intimidated by these treacherous acts, and we shall fight terror as seriously as we embrace peace and development, solidarity among our law-abiding citizens and our strategic alliances."
"This commitment stands firm, and we will not relent until the total defeat of terrorists in every part of the country," she said. "We have taken a strong hand against the threats to the law and the republic, but at the same time we yield to the high moral imperatives dictated by God to walk away from capital punishment."
She called on law enforcers, judges, prosecutors and communities to help shoulder the responsibility of "sharpening law and justice for all."
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the Vatican's envoy to Manila, congratulated Arroyo and legislators who approved the measure.
"This could be another very important nice step to go on in showing that the culture of life is very alive and important in this country," Filoni said. "We cannot speak about human rights when death penalty is imposed."
Arroyo signed the law shortly after returning to the presidential palace from a hospital where she was taken late on Thursday, suffering from acute diarrhea.
Congress two weeks earlier approved a bill abolishing capital punishment despite protests from anti-crime activists, who believe Arroyo, a staunch Roman Catholic, rushed its approval to please the pope.
Arroyo was set to leave for the Vatican today.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s