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Philippines: Further information on imminent execution: Josefina Esparas

, Index number: ASA 35/042/1999

On 13 October 1999, President Estrada announced he had decided to commute the death sentence against Josefina Esparas. This is the first time the President has ordered a death sentence to be commuted.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 35/42/99
14 October 1999
Further information on UA 178/99 (ASA 35/30/99, 23 July 1999) and follow-ups
(ASA 35/33/99, 11 August 1999, ASA 35/35/99, 13 August 1999, ASA 35/37/99,
20 September 1999 and ASA 35/39/99, 28 September 1999) - Imminent execution
PHILIPPINESJosefina Esparas (f)
On 13 October 1999, President Estrada announced he had decided to commute the
death sentence against Josefina Esparas. This is the first time the President
has ordered a death sentence to be commuted.
According to a Reuters report, he said he had reached his decision on the
recommendation of the newly created “conscience committee” which had argued
that Josefina Esparas, convicted of drug-trafficking, was “just a carrier and
not the mastermind”. “It would not have been fair for her to be put to death
by lethal injection while the mastermind is not punished at all”, the President
is reported to have said.
On 27 September, three days before she was scheduled to be executed, President
Estrada granted Josefina Esparas a 20-day stay of execution to allow the
“conscience committee” to examine her case. Hers was one of a number of temporary
reprieves granted by him in recent weeks. It is not clear what sort of sentence
Josefina Esparas will now serve but it is thought likely to be life imprisonment.
If Josefina Esparas’s execution had gone ahead she would have been the first
woman to be executed in the Philippines since the death penalty was restored
in 1993.
More than 20 women are currently on death row in the Philippines for crimes
ranging from drug-trafficking to murder and kidnapping. The total number of
prisoners under sentence of death in the country is now well over 1,000. The
“conscience committee” is due to make decisions on a number of other prisoners
whose death sentences have been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Many thanks to all who sent appeals on behalf of Josefina Esparas. Although
no further action is required by the Urgent Action network participants may
send a final round of appeals in English or your own language:
- welcoming President Estrada’s decision to commute the death sentence passed
on Josefina Esparas;
- expressing the hope that he will grant clemency in all other pending death
sentences;
- urging the Philippines to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view
to completely abolishing the death penalty, in line with resolution 1998/8,
adopted on 3 April 1998 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
APPEALS TO (please note that fax tones to the Philippines are sometimes available
on an erratic basis):
President Joseph Estrada
Malacañang Palace
J.P. Laurel St
San Miguel 1005
Manila
Philippines
Faxes: + 63 2 742 1641 / 832 3793 (via Dept of Foreign Affairs)
2
+ 63 2 731 1325 (via Press Secretary to the President)
E-mails:erap@ops.gov.ph
Salutation: Dear President Estrada
COPIES TO:
Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora
Office of the Executive Secretary
2
nd
Floor, New Executive Building, J.P. Laurel St,
San Miguel 1005, Manila
Philippines
Faxes:+ 63 2 736 1010

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