Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law on Saturday a bill abolishing the imposition of the death penalty, 12 years after it was re-imposed in the country.
Arroyo signed the law shortly after she was discharged from a hospital in suburban Quezon City where she was confined for two nights due to severe diarrhoea.
The repeal of capital punishment comes a day before Arroyo is to visit the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
The Catholic Church has strongly lobbied against death penalty.
The 59-year-old president, a devout Catholic, was opposed to the imposition of capital punishment and had granted reprieve to convicts who were scheduled for execution.
No convict has been executed during Arroyo's term even though she lifted a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty in late 2003 following a surge in kidnapping cases.
Under the new law, which abolishes capital punishment, all death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The Congress, which passed the bill earlier in the month, noted that the death penalty is not a strong deterrent against crime.
The death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 1987 but was re-imposed in 1994. Executions, however, started only in 1999 and since then seven death row convicts have been executed by lethal injection.