MANILA, April 21 -- A Philippine judge who sentenced a convicted rapist to death said Thursday he is bothered by his conscience and feels like an executioner after handling down the death verdict.
'I am still disturbed..it hurts.
You are like and executioner, but it is the call of duty -- I have to do it,' Judge Maximiano Asuncion told a Manila radio station.
On Tuesday, after a four-month trial, Asuncion ordered the execution of Fernando Gallera, 26, who was found guilty of robbery and rape, a crime punishable by death under one of the most severe set of laws outside the Muslim world.
Gallera, a fish vendor, is the first criminal to be ordered executed since the government restored the death penalty on Jan. 1. Under the law, the case will automatically go to the Supreme Court for review and then to President Fidel Ramos, who has the power to grant pardon or commute the sentence to life imprisoment.
The Philippine death penalty law was passed by Congress in December in an attempt to curb an alarming rise of the so-called heinous crimes. The law allows the execution of criminals convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, drug trafficking or large-scale looting of government funds.
On the day he issued the death sentence, Asuncion said he woke up early and pondered the gravity of his decision, which he described as a landmark in Philippine criminal justice.
'I went to church and prayed to God that the decision I made will be acceptable to God, to my conscience, to the accused and to my country,' he said.