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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Phillipines executions to resume
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, opening the way for executions to resume in January.

The decision follows a series of kidnappings, targeting particularly the ethnic Chinese community.

A halt on executions was first imposed by her predecessor, following pressure from the powerful Catholic Church.

Ms Arroyo lifted the moratorium in 2001 after a rash of kidnappings sparked outrage, but reinstated it in 2002.

Much as I am averse to the taking of human lives in this manner, the president must yield to the higher public interest
Gloria Arroyo

Her decision to lift the second freeze on executions also follows a series of high-profile abductions for ranson.

These included the murder in November of Coca-Cola executive Betti Sy, a Filipino-Chinese whose bullet-ridden corpse was found in a rubbish bag by a roadside.

Three days later, a 10-year-old girl was abducted outside her school in Manila.

On Friday Ms Arroyo said in a statement: "I shall no longer stand in the way of executions scheduled by the courts for January 2004."

"Much as I am averse, as a matter of moral principle, to the taking of human lives in this manner, the president must yield to the higher public interest when dictated by extraordinary circumstances," she added.

Leaders of the Chinese community, which is prominent in the business world, have criticised the government's response as ineffective.

They say many kidnappings go unreported because families do not trust the police.

Commentators say the death penalty moratorium has risked making the president seem soft on crime in the run-up to next year's election.

Philippine executions suspended
30 Sep 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Gloria Arroyo
28 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
09 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: The Philippines
18 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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