Friday, April 15, 2016


Death by garrote in the Philippines. Something similar happened on Guam in 1863.

In the late morning of April 29, 1862, in the barrio of Sumay, a Chamorro from Hagåtña named Anselmo Benavente took his machete and gave two thrusts of the blade to a Filipino named Cornelio Eustaquio, who died of his wounds.

Anselmo was angry with Eustaquio, who had taken Anselmo to court over an unpaid debt Anselmo owed Eustaquio.

Arrested, tried and found guilty, Anselmo was sentenced to ten years in prison. But he was later given the ultimate punishment - death.

The method of capital punishment commonly used in Spain and her territories in those days was the garrote, which Chamorros pronounce galuti.

Many people today think this method of execution is inhumane, and it was abolished in Spain only in the last several decades. But, back then, the government thought it was a less horrible method of killing than hanging or the firing squad.

The garrote was a strangling device in which a chain, or rope or some other material was placed around the neck of the condemned which was then twisted with a bar or rod, tightening the squeeze on the neck until he or she was strangled to death.

Apparently the garrote was not used much in Guam in 1863 since a professional executioner had to be brought in from Manila to do the job, arriving in September of that year.

It was soon after that Anselmo was informed of his sentence to die by garrote.

For a few days before his execution, Anselmo confessed his sins to the priest of Hagåtña and received holy communion. He admitted his guilt that he had forfeited his life on account of taking away someone else's life.

People remarked how calm and peaceful Anselmo was about his impending execution, becoming upset only when family members came to visit him in his cell. The priest of Hagåtña credited Anselmo's tranquil resignation to the prayers of the innocent children made to pray for his soul before the execution, and to the many Mass intentions offered for him.

On September 30, in the late morning, Anselmo was taken to a small plaza in front of an old fort called San Rafael, which was located north of the Plaza and the church, near the river. Right before he was executed, he asked for the community's forgiveness. Then he was executed

Såga gi minahgong, Ansetmo.

(Source : Chronicle of the Marianas, by Fr Aniceto Ibáñez)

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