Brunei’s sultan says gay death penalty will not be enforced after backlash

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2019   •   1547

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah | Courtesy: Reuters

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on Sunday (May 5) extended a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The small Southeast Asian country sparked an outcry when it rolled out its interpretation of Islamic laws, or sharia, on April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning.

In a rare response to criticism aimed at the oil-rich state, the sultan said in a speech ahead of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO).

“As for the country’s rule of law. As we are all aware, Brunei has begun to fully implement the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 (SPCO) on April 3, 2019,” Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a video statement.

“The aim of implementing the law is to uphold the objectives of Syariah which are to religion, life, lineage, property and intellect,” he added.

“I am aware that there are many questions and misconceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO. We have given clarification to this. We are conscious of the fact that misperceptions may cause apprehension,” he said.

“However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident. There should not be any concern on the Syariah law as it is full of Allah’s mercy and blessings. Allah, the provider of blessings, will never bestow upon us laws meant to inflict cruelty on others,” he further stated.

The Sultan continued: “Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure the peace and harmony of the country. They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the public as well as respecting the privacy of individuals.”

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then. Some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking, but no executions have been carried out since 1957.

“As evident for more than two decades, our country has practised a de facto moratorium on the execution of the death penalty for cases under the common law,” he said.

“This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission. In upholding our international commitments and obligations on human rights, our country will be ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT),” the sultan added. (REUTERS)

Bato, Pacquiao support reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 30, 2020

Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Manny Pacquiao reiterated their support for the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes.

During Senate’s regular session on Wednesday (July 29), Pacquiao said reinstating death penalty in the country will not be illegal in the eyes of God.

The Senator previously filed a bill that would impose death penalty on heinous crimes which include manufacturing and trafficking dangerous drugs.

Hindi po labag sa mata ng gobyerno, sa mata ng Panginoon. Dahil biblically po, allowed po ang gobyerno (It is not illegal in the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the Lord. Because, biblically, the government is allowed to do so) the authority, which is established by God to impose heinous crimes especially death penalty,” Pacquiao said.

Meanwhile, during his privilege speech, Dela Rosa reiterated that reimposing death penalty would be the solution in stopping drug lords and the continuing drug activities inside detention facilities.

The Senator also noted that crime rate has dropped when death penalty was imposed in 1993. He also said that the drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic which should also be prioritized.

“It is also considered a global pandemic itong drug problem. So, hindi naman siguro ibig sabihin na porke tayo may kinakaharap na global pandemic na COVID-19, hihinto na lang tayo sa paggawa ng ibang batas para sa ibang mga issues na kinakaharap ng ating lipunan (This drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic. Just because we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean we would stop making laws for other issues faced by society),” he said.

Dela Rosa was appointed as a member of a Senate panel under the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian relinquished his seat.

The said Senate panel will vote on bills including the reimposition of death penalty in the country. However, panel chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the bill should be discussed at the proper time.

“I will not sponsor it because I do not believe in it. We will take it up at the proper time,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Solon calls on Pag-IBIG Fund to revise payment guidelines on accumulated premiums during ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Pag-IBIG Fund has allowed a 30-day grace period to all its borrowers as a relief measure while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect and in compliance with Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020. 

But according to the agency’s Vice President for Public Relations and Information Services Group, Atty. Kalin Franco-Garcia, the accumulated amount of premiums must be settled through one-time payment once the ECQ is lifted.

Pagkatapos ng ECQ sa first working day ay kailangan na po ninyong bayaran ang lahat ng (amount) due habang naka-ECQ ka [After the ECQ, on the first working day you need to settle all unpaid dues while on ECQ],” the Pag-IBIG official said during an interview with UNTV’s public service program, Serbisong Bayanihan.

The show’s host, Kuya Daniel Razon, noted however that while under ECQ, workers are presumed to have no income as jobs were put on hold. 

“Kasi po there is a presumption na na-stop ako ng work kaya kung halimbawa, immediately pagbalik magbabayad ako kaagad parang, it defeats the purpose of the Bayanihan Act, right? ” he asked.

To which, Atty. Franco-Garcia argued that it was the reason why Pag-IBIG Fund approved a ‘friendlier’ option for its borrowers.

“That is exactly po ang nakalagay sa Bayanihan Law but nonetheless po that’s why we came up with the moratorium that is friendlier in terms po, payment reprieve,” she said.

In addressing similar concerns, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has directed owners of residential and commercial establishments to also grant a 30-day grace period to their tenants on the duration of the ECQ.

But the accumulated amount of unpaid rent, according to DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, should be paid on a staggered basis within six months. 

Kapag na-lift na po ang ECQ hindi pa sila pwedeng singilin [Once the ECQ is lifted, the tenants cannot be forced to pay yet],” Castello said in an interview on Wednesday (April 29).

Kapag siningil na sila pwedeng i-divide into six installments ang mga rental na nag-accumulate during the ECQ period [The amount of accumulated rentals within the ECQ period may be divided into six installments]” she added. 

Atty. Franco-Garcia explained, however, that should it become difficult for the borrower to pay in full after the ECQ period, he may apply for the 3-month moratorium. 

But one of the principal authors of the Law, Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy wants Pag-IBIG Fund to revise its guidelines to clarify the issue.

Nananawagan ako sa Pag-IBIG Fund. Dapat kayo po ang numero unong nakikisama sa ating mga kababayan. Dahil hindi mo pwedeng i-expect na pagbalik, bibiglain nyo ng 2 months worth ang babayaran nila, 3 months worth. Hindi po yan makatarungan at hindi yan naaayon sa batas na ipinasa natin,” Rep. Herrera-Dy said. 

[I am calling on Pag-IBIG Fund. You should be the first to help our people. You cannot expect them to pay the 2-months, 3-months worth of arrears in one full payment. That is injustice and it violates that law that we authored.]

“We’ve asked credit companies to help us. We’ve asked landlords to help us. Tapos kayo pa ang manggigipit sa mamamayang Pilipino [Then here you are adding pressure to Filipinos]. Please don’t do that,” she appealed. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Japan executes man sentenced to death over four murders

UNTV News   •   December 26, 2019

Then Japanese Declining Birthrate, Gender Equality, Consumer Affairs and Food Safety Minister Masako Mori speaks during an official news conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 27 December, 2012 after being attested by Emperor Akihito. EPA-EFE FILE/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

TOKYO, JAPAN – An inmate convicted and sentenced to death in Japan over the murder of four people was executed on Thursday, the country’s justice ministry said.

In a press conference, Justice Minister Masako Mori announced the execution of Wei Wei, a Chinese national aged 40.

His death sentence was handed out in 2005 but finalized after an appeal on Nov. 10, 2011 for the murders carried out in June 2003 in the southwestern city of Fukuoka.

The four victims, members of the same family including two children, were allegedly killed by being thrown in the sea tied to weights.

The execution was ordered by Mori on Monday and carried out on Thursday in the city of Fukuoka.

In the press conference, Mori called Wei’s case “extremely savage and cruel,” recalling that the victims included a boy aged 11 and a girl aged 8, along with their parents.

She said that the decision to give the death penalty in the case had been “well-examined” during the trial.

Wei Wei was the first person to be executed in Japan since Aug. 2, also marking the 39th execution during the uninterrupted reign of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since 2012.

Abe had also served as prime minister for a short duration between 2006 and 2007.

This was also the first execution since Mori was appointed minister of justice on Oct. 31.

On Aug. 2, two inmates who were sentenced to death over separate charges of the rape and murder of women were hanged.

A total of 15 death-row inmates were executed in 2018, including Shoko Asahara, the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that carried out a deadly Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

Another 12 members of the cult were also executed, and in December 2018, two death-row inmates who were convicted over the murder of a company president and one of the firm’s employees in 1988 were hanged.

Japan is the only industrialized and democratic nation apart from the United States that carries out capital punishment, and death-row inmates are kept in solitary confinement and informed about their execution just hours before they are hanged.

The Asian country currently has 112 convicts on death row. EFE-EPA

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