FALSE: Philippines is ‘the only country in Asia’ without death penalty

UP Journalism Department, Rappler.com

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FALSE: Philippines is ‘the only country in Asia’ without death penalty
The Philippines is one of 14 countries in Asia that have abolished the death penalty

Claim: The Philippines is “the only country in Asia” that does not have the death penalty.

Senatorial hopefuls Raffy Alunan and JV Ejercito made similar claims at the CNN Philippines: #TheFilipinoVotes senatorial debate on April 27.

While explaining why he was for the death penalty, Alunan said, “We’re the only country in Asia, I think, that doesn’t have the death penalty.”

Ejercito, also explaining why he was for the death penalty, said, “We are only one of two countries in the – in Asia that repealed death penalty.”

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The Philippines is one of 14 countries in Asia that have abolished death penalty, contrary to claims by Senate bets Raffy Alunan and JV Ejercito in an April 27 CNN Philippines debate.

Amnesty International as of July 2018 lists the following Asian countries having abolished capital punishment for all crimes since 1976:

  • Armenia (repealed in 2003)
  • Azerbaijan (repealed in 1998)
  • Bhutan (repealed in 2004)
  • Cambodia (repealed in 1989)
  • Cyprus (repealed in 1983 for ordinary crimes; 2002 for all crimes)
  • Georgia (repealed in 1997)
  • Kyrgyzstan (repealed in 2007)
  • Mongolia (repealed in 2017)
  • Nepal (repealed in 1997)
  • Philippines (repealed in 2006)
  • Timor-Leste (repealed in 1999)
  • Turkey (repealed in 2004)
  • Turkmenistan (repealed in 1999)
  • Uzbekistan (repealed in 2008)

This list does not include Hong Kong, which abolished the death penalty in 1993. It became a special administrative region of China in 1997 but has remained abolitionist.

Seven more Asian countries are “abolitionist in practice” and have not executed anyone in the past 10 years despite retaining capital punishment, according to Amnesty International:

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Myanmar
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tajikistan

The 1987 Constitution, which prohibits “cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment,” says “neither shall the death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it.”

Republic Act No. 7659 enacted in 1993 imposed death penalty for certain heinous crimes, including treason, kidnapping, murder, rape and plunder. Republic Act No. 9346 in 2006 subsequently prohibited death penalty.

In 2017, a bill seeking to reimpose capital punishment was approved by the House of Representatives and was transmitted to the Senate where it remains pending. – Rappler.com

This fact check was written by the University of the Philippines Journalism Department. Rappler counter-checked their findings and agree with their rating.

Rappler is a partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative project between the academe and newsrooms to fight disinformation and misinformation during the 2019 Philippine elections. Tsek.ph fact checks claims made by candidates, false stories spread online, and submissions sent in by readers.

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