Press Release
June 24, 2006


Lethal injection is not as painless as people are made to believe as a means of executing death convicts.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said this has been found by medical experts in the United States prompting human rights groups there to petition the US Supreme Court to ban lethal injection and to press for the abolition of the death penalty.

Pimentel cited this point as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law the bill repealing the death penalty of which he is one of the principal authors.

He said the objection to lethal injection as a method execution is embodied in the case involving death penalty convict Michael Morales which was lodged before the US Supreme Court.

According to Pimentel the procedure for inflicting the death penalty in the US by lethal injection, which is being followed in 37 out of 38 states, has been questioned for being a cruel and unusual punishment.

In other words, it is not accepted by many people connected with the Anti-Death Penalty Coalition in the US that lethal injection is a painless way of doing away with the life of the convict, he said.

Lethal injection involves a three-step process, the minority leader explained.

First, is the injection of sodium pentothal which is a barbiturate designed to induce the convict to sleep; Second is to paralyze his body; third is to inject him with potassium chloride which stops the heart, Pimentel said.

But he said the three-step process of injecting chemicals, which a US Supreme Court justice has called the cocktail of death, has not produced the seamless flow of the juices of death into the veins of the death convict.

As a matter of fact, he said the British Medical Journal, Lancet dated April 2005 has reported that 43 percent of death convicts are still conscious after the sedatives are injected into them.

For example, Pimentel cited the case in Florida of Bernis Demps, in which the persons injecting him with the sedatives took 33 minutes just to locate his veins before they could inject him. Then, in Georgia, he said Joseph High was still alive after 39 minutes of having been injected with the sedatives. And then there was Scott Dawn Carpenter of Oklahoma who was found to have drug-induced seizures after the injection.

In other words, the lethal injection that is provided for in the death penalty law in our country is not as painless as it is touted to be, the senator said.

Pimentel said the Philippines, as a civilized nation does not allow the torture of detainees or even of convicts because the inflictions of physical blows on any part of the human body is considered a barbaric practice.

He argued that the more is there a logical reason to do away with the death penalty because it does not only inflict pain on parts of the body of the convict but also puts an end to the very life of the convict. And certainly, life is more precious to a human being than his or her arms and legs or other parts of the human body.

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