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Philippine President Commutes All Death Sentences

Philippine President has commuted all 1,200 death sentences in the country to terms of life in prison.

Ms. Arroyo made the announcement Saturday as part of a statement marking the Christian holiday of Easter.

It was not immediately clear if the decision was a step in seeking to abolish the death penalty, which would require congressional approval.

The head of victims group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Dante Jimenez, criticized the move, saying Ms. Arroyo had failed to consult victims' families.

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has been pressing for an end to the death penalty.

A ban on executions was lifted in 1999, but no convict has been put to death during Ms. Arroyo's term which began in 2001.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.