Philippines Bringing Back Death Penalty

MANILA, Philippines, OCT. 18, 2001 ( President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, and said the first executions would be of kidnappers, the Associated Press reported.

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In a televised news conference, Arroyo said criminals have been emboldened by her suspension of the death penalty after she took office in January.

«Let us now listen to the voice of their victims,» she said. «I will implement the law without fear, especially against kidnappers who have no conscience, who kill their victims despite receiving ransom payments.»

A watchdog group has tallied 93 kidnappings in which 202 people have been abducted between January and September, including three Americans and 17 Filipinos seized by the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf in May.

Meanwhile, authorities said local thieves are responsible for the kidnapping of Father Giuseppe Pierantoni, an Italian Dehonian missionary who disappeared from the coastal village of Dimataling, in the province of Mindanao.

At first it was thought that Abu Sayyaf was behind the kidnapping. But Bishop Zacharias Jimenez of the Pagadian Diocese blamed it on thieves trying to steal.

The Dehonians work in the area because it is one of the poorest and most degraded in Mindanao.

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