You are on page 1of 21

Mercy killing: yes, no, and why?

April 26, 2014 12:03 am

by Amado S. Tolentino Jr.

Possibly the first in the history of the Congress of the Philippines, a voluntary
euthanasia or mercy killing and living will-related proposal known as Senate
Bill No. 1887 or the Natural Death Act was filed by Senator Miriam DefensorSantiago. The bill seeks to recognize the fundamental right of adult persons to
decide their own health care, including the decision to have life-sustaining
treatment withheld or withdrawn in instances of a terminal condition or
permanent unconscious condition.
Over the past two decades, an end-of-life policy unfolded quietly in some
parts of the world. In the US, the Death With Dignity Act (1994) in Oregon
allows doctors to write legal prescriptions for terminally ill patients who want to
control the time and place of their death. To qualify under the law, the patient
should be fully conscious and able to administer his own overdose. In Europe,
Belgium is set to be the second country after The Netherlands to allow
terminally ill children over 12 years old facing unbearable physical suffering
and repeatedly makes the request to be officially killed. Belgium and
Switzerland have legalized euthanasia for many years but only for people over
the age of 18. The Netherlands have legalized euthanasia for adults and
children over 12 years for the past twelve years.

Mercy killing or euthanasia was a favorite topic of debate in Philippine law

schools during the last fifty years or so. Now that a bill is with the Senate,
among many questions Filipinos wish to be answered to have an in-depth
understanding of the subject that will enable them to make an informed yes or
no and why in case of renewed debates, survey or referendum, are: What is
euthanasia or mercy killing ? What is the difference between voluntary and
involuntary mercy killing ? What is a living will? May human life be shortened
legally? Should one kill another in mercy, or is life, however hard too dear to
lose? What is the rule in our jurisdiction on mercy killing and assisted suicide?
Is the mercy motive an element of a crime or defense to its existence? Out of
compassion for a suffering patient, must we legalize euthanasia altogether?
Out of compassion for the actor, must we mitigate the harshness of formal law
under which euthanasia is treated as deliberate killing?
If an individual has the right to live, does he also have the right to die? If there
is a right to privacy, does it include the right to die? Does the right to decide
ones health care include the right to decide to end ones life? Is there a right
to kill? Is there a point at which an incurable illness becomes a living death? If
so, is it permissible for someones life to be deliberately cut off ? What are the
religious, non-religious and medical views about euthanasia?
When does human life end? What is brain death? Is persistent vegetative
state the same as being brain dead? When is a person legally and medically
dead? What is an acceptable legal and medical definition of terminal
condition or permanent unconscious condition? Who has the right to make
the decision to end lifethe patient, the spouse, the parents, the doctor/team
of doctors or the courts? Who should pull the plug? A black hooded
The complex life-and-death problems raised by the scientific advances in the
field of medicine have no simple answers. Intimately involved in the issues
besides physicians and lawyers are theologians, the courts, lawmakers,

psychologists, sociologists, ethicists among others. Expert advice is needed

from many fields on this culture-of-life vs. emerging end-of-life policy.
Former Ambassador Amado S. Tolentino Jr. belongs to UP Law 63 where his
undergraduate thesis was Is there a right to die ? A study of the law on
euthanasia published by the Philippine Law Journal at the height of the
comatose Karen Ann Quinlan case in the US during the early l970s. He is a
governor of the Philippine Ambassadors Foundation.
fforts to change government policies on euthanasia of human lives in the 20th and 21st centuries
have met limited success in Western countries. Human euthanasia policies have also been
developed by a variety of NGOs, most notably medical associations and advocacy organizations. As
of June 2015, human euthanasia is legal only in
the Netherlands,Belgium, Colombia[1] and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide is legal
in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania and in the US states ofWashington, Oregon, Vermont, New
Mexico and Montana.
Human euthanasia was criminalized in Mexico, Thailand, and the Northern Territory of Australia.

1 Euthanasia law by country


1.1 Australia

1.2 Belgium

1.3 Canada

1.4 Colombia

1.5 Denmark

1.6 Finland

1.7 France

1.8 India

1.9 Ireland

1.10 Israel

1.11 Japan

1.12 Luxembourg

1.13 Mexico

1.14 Netherlands

1.15 New Zealand

1.16 Norway

1.17 Philippines

1.18 Switzerland

1.19 Sweden

1.20 Turkey

1.21 United Kingdom

1.22 United States

1.23 Uruguay

2 Non-governmental organizations

3 References

4 External links

Euthanasia law by country[edit]

Main article: Euthanasia in Australia
Euthanasia is illegal in Australia. It once was legal in the Northern Territory, by the Rights of the
Terminally Ill Act 1995. In 1997, the Australian Federal Government overrode the Northern Territory
legislation through the introduction of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997.[2] Unlike the states, legislation
in the Northern Territory is not guaranteed by the Australian constitution. Before this law was passed
by the Australian Government, Dr. Philip Nitschke helped three people by them using
his Deliverance machine. Organisations such as Exit International (founded by Nitschke himself),

want the government to bring back euthanasia rights to Australia. Exit made TV commercials which
were banned before they made it to air in September 2010. [3]

The Belgian parliament legalised euthanasia on 28 May 2002.[4][5]
A survey published in 2010 reported that those who died from euthanasia (compared with other
deaths) were more often younger, male, cancer patients and more often died in their homes. In
almost all cases, unbearable physical suffering were reported. Euthanasia for nonterminal patients
was rare.[6][7] There have been about 1,400 cases a year since the law was introduced, and a record
1,807 cases were recorded in 2013.[8][9]
In December 2013, the Belgian Senate voted in favour of extending its euthanasia law to terminally
ill children. Conditions imposed on children seeking euthanasia are "the patient must be conscious of
their decision and understand the meaning of euthanasia", "the request must have been approved
by the child's parents and medical team", "their illness must be terminal", "they must be in great pain,
with no available treatment to alleviate their distress".[10] A psychologist must also determine the
patient's maturity to make the decision. The amendment emphasizes that the patient's request be

Main article: Euthanasia in Canada
While it was illegal to "aid and abet suicide" under Section 241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada,
which states that this is an indictable offence with a potential fourteen-year sentence if the appellant
is found guilty, British Columbia's Supreme Court struck down the section, arguing that it imposed
unconscionably discriminatory burdens on severely disabled individuals that were not valid under
Sections 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on June 15, 2012. Thus, Canadian
euthanasia and assisted suicide law are currently in legal limbo, although Canada's federal
Parliament had until June 2013 to deal with the consequences of this decision. [12] The Canadian
Medical Association has declared neutrality on the issue.
On 6 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled in Carter v Canada (AG) that
Canadian adults who are mentally competent and suffering intolerably and permanently have the
right to a doctor's help in dying. The court however suspended its ruling for 12 months to give the
government an opportunity to write leglislation and draft new laws and policies around assisted

In a 6-3 decision, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled in 1997 that "no person can be held
criminally responsible for taking the life of a terminally ill patient who has given clear authorization to
do so," according to the Washington Post.[15] The court defined "terminally ill" person as those with
diseases such as "cancer, AIDS, and kidney or liver failure if they are terminal and the cause of
extreme suffering," the Post reported. The ruling specifically refused to authorize euthanasia for
people with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Parliament has assigned ethics panels over the years that have advised against legalisation each
time[16] however it is still not specifically outlawed[17] and a study published in 2003 showed 41% of
deaths under medical supervision involved doctors taking "end-of-life" decisions to help ease their
patients' suffering before death (about 1% of which were via prescription drugs). [18][19]

There is a grey area because of no mention in any criminal code and so it is tolerated amongst
friends when done discreetly. Doctors do not formally perform it. [20][21]

In July 2013, French President Franois Hollande stated his personal support for decriminalisation
of voluntary euthanasiain France, which had been one of his presidential campaign promises
("introduction of the right to die with dignity"), despite objections from France's National Consultative
Ethics Committee/ Comit national consultatif d'thique, which alleged "abuses" in adjacent
jurisdictions that have decriminalised and regulated either voluntary euthanasia or physicianassisted suicide (Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg). It remains to be seen
whether President Hollande will be successful in his objectives, given that the Catholic Church in
France and other religious social conservatives have announced that after forthright opposition to
the introduction of same-sex marriage in France, their next target may be any such decriminalisation
of voluntary euthanasia.[22]

Main article: Euthanasia in India
Passive euthanasia is legal in India.[23] On 7 March 2011 the Supreme Court of India legalised
passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative
state.[24][25] Forms of Active euthanasia, including the administration of lethal compounds, are illegal. [26]

In Ireland, it is illegal for a doctor (or anyone) to actively contribute to someone's death. It is not,
however, illegal to remove life support and other treatment (the "right to die") should a person (or
their next of kin) request it. A September 2010 Irish Times poll showed that a majority, 57% of adults,
believed that doctor-assisted suicide should be legal for terminally ill patients who request it. [27]

The Israeli Penal Law forbids causing the death of another and specifically forbids shortening the life
of another. Active euthanasia is forbidden by both Israeli law and Jewish law. Passive euthanasia is
forbidden by Jewish law but has been accepted in some cases under Israeli law.[28] In 2005,
proposals were put forward to allow passive euthanasia to be administered using a switch
mechanism similar to Sabbath clocks.[29] In 2006, the Steinberg Commission was set up to look into
whether life and death issues could be rethought in the context of Jewish law, which suggested that
hospitals could set up committees to determine whether patients would be given passive euthanasia.

The Japanese government has no official laws on the status of euthanasia and the Supreme Court
of Japan has never ruled on the matter. Rather, to date, Japan's euthanasia policy has been decided
by two local court cases, one in Nagoya in 1962, and another after an incident at Tokai University in
1995. The first case involved "passive euthanasia" ( shkyokuteki anrakushi ) (i.e.,

allowing a patient to die by turning off life support) and the latter case involved "active
euthanasia" ( sekkyokuteki anrakushi ) (e.g., through injection). The judgments in these

cases set forth a legal framework and a set of conditions within which both passive and active
euthanasia could be legal. Nevertheless, in both of these particular cases the doctors were found
guilty of violating these conditions when taking the lives of their patients. Further, because the
findings of these courts have yet to be upheld at the national level, these precedents are not
necessarily binding. Nevertheless, at present, there is a tentative legal framework for implementing
euthanasia in Japan.[31]
In the case of passive euthanasia, three conditions must be met:
1. the patient must be suffering from an incurable disease, and in the final stages of the disease
from which he/she is unlikely to make a recovery;

2. the patient must give express consent to stopping treatment, and this consent must be
obtained and preserved prior to death. If the patient is not able to give clear consent, their
consent may be determined from a pre-written document such as a living will or the
testimony of the family;
3. the patient may be passively euthanized by stopping medical treatment, chemotherapy,
dialysis, artificial respiration, blood transfusion, IV drip, etc.
For active euthanasia, four conditions must be met:
1. the patient must be suffering from unbearable physical pain;
2. death must be inevitable and drawing near;
3. the patient must give consent. (Unlike passive euthanasia, living wills and family consent will
not suffice.)
4. the physician must have (ineffectively) exhausted all other measures of pain relief.
The problems that arose from this, in addition to the problem faced by many other families in the
country, has led to the creation of "bioethics SWAT teams".[32] These teams will be made available to
the families of terminally ill patients in order to help them, along with the doctors, come to a decision
based on the personal facts of the case. Though in its early stages and relying on subsidies from
the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare there are plans to create a nonprofit organization to allow
this effort to continue. [33]

The country's parliament passed a bill legalizing euthanasia on 20 February 2008 in the first reading
with 30 of 59 votes in favour. On 19 March 2009, the bill passed the second reading, making
Luxembourg the third European Union country, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to decriminalise
euthanasia. Terminally ill patients will have the option of euthanasia after receiving the approval of
two doctors and a panel of experts.[34]

Main article: Euthanasia in Mexico
In Mexico, active euthanasia is illegal but since 7 January 2008 the law allows the terminally ill or
closest relatives, if unconscious to refuse medication or further medical treatment to extend life
(also known as passive euthanasia) in Mexico City,[35] in the central state of Aguascalientes (since 6

April 2009)[36] and, since 1 September 2009, in the Western state ofMichoacn.[37] A similar law
extending the same provisions at the national level has been approved by the senate[38] and an
initiative decriminalizing active euthanasia has entered the same legislative chamber on 13 April

Main article: Euthanasia in the Netherlands
In the 1973 "Postma case" a physician was convicted for having facilitated the death of her mother
following repeated explicit requests for euthanasia. [40] While upholding the conviction, the court's
judgment set out criteria when a doctor would not be required to keep a patient alive contrary to their
will. This set of criteria was formalized in the course of a number of court cases during the 1980s.
In 2002, the Netherlands passed a law legalizing euthanasia including physician-assisted suicide.

This law codifies the twenty-year-old convention of not prosecuting doctors who have committed

euthanasia in very specific cases, under very specific circumstances. The Ministry of Public Health,
Wellbeing and Sports claims that this practice "allows a person to end their life in dignity after having
received every available type of palliative care."[42] The United Nations has reviewed and commented
on the Netherlands euthanasia law.[43]
In September 2004 the Groningen Protocol was developed, which sets out criteria to be met for
carrying out child euthanasia without the physician being prosecuted.[44]

New Zealand[edit]
Main article: Euthanasia in New Zealand
Assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia remain illegal in New Zealand under Section 179 of the
New Zealand Crimes Act 1961, which renders it a criminal offence to "aid and abet suicide." There
have been two prior decriminalisation attempts- the Death With Dignity Bill 1995 and the Death With
Dignity Bill 2003. Both failed, although the latter only did so by a three-vote margin within the New
Zealand Parliament. In May 2012, Labour Party of New Zealand MP Maryan Street introduced a
private member's bill into the ballot box, the End of Life Choices Bill, which was took over by MP Iain
Lees-Galloway when she failed to get re-elected in the 2014 General Election. The bill was dropped
in Dec 2014 under the request of Labour Party of New Zealand leader Andrew Little as the issue
was deemed to be distracting from bigger issues that concens the party.[45]

Euthanasia remains illegal, though a caregiver may receive a reduced punishment for taking the life
of someone who consents to it, or for, out of compassion, taking the life of a person that is
"hopelessly sick".[46]

Euthanasia is illegal in the Philippines. In 1997, the Philippine Senate considered passing a bill
legalizing passive euthanasia. The bill met strong opposition from the country's Catholic Church. If
legalized the Philippines would have been the first country to legalize euthanasia. Under current
laws, doctors assisting a patient to die can be imprisoned and charged with malpractice. [47]

Main article: Euthanasia in Switzerland
In Switzerland, deadly drugs may be prescribed to a Swiss person or to a foreigner, where the
recipient takes an active role in the drug administration.[48] More generally, article 115 of the Swiss
penal code, which came into effect in 1942 (having been written in 1918), considers assisting suicide
a crime if and only if the motive is selfish.

Passive euthanasia was deemed legal after a landmark court ruling in 2010. This means a health
care professional can legally cease life support upon request from a patient, however administering
a lethal substance is illegal.[49]

Euthanasia is strictly forbidden in Turkey. The aide who helped a person to suicide or other ways to
kill oneself will be punished for assisting and encouraging suicide under the stipulation of article 84
of the Turkish Criminal Law. In condition of active euthanasia, article 81 of the same law sets forth
that any person who carries out this act will be judged and punished for life imprisonnement just like
a simple murder.

United Kingdom[edit]
Main article: Euthanasia in the United Kingdom
Euthanasia is illegal in the United Kingdom. Any person found to be assisting suicide is breaking the
law and can be convicted of assisting suicide or attempting to do so. [50][51] However, the Director of

Public Prosecutions has issued guidelines setting out when a prosecution is, or is not, likely to
happen.[52] Between 2003 and 2006 Lord Joffe made four attempts to introduce bills that would have
legalised voluntary euthanasia all were rejected by the UK Parliament. [53]Currently, Dr Nigel Cox is
the only British doctor to have been convicted of attempted euthanasia. He was given a 12monthsuspended sentence in 1992.[54]
In regard to the principle of double effect, in 1957 Judge Devlin in the trial of Dr John Bodkin
Adams ruled that causing death through the administration of lethal drugs to a patient, if the intention
is solely to alleviate pain, is not considered murder even if death is a potential or even likely

United States[edit]
Main article: Euthanasia in the United States
See also: Assisted suicide in the United States
Active euthanasia is illegal throughout the United States. Patients retain the rights to refuse medical
treatment and to receive appropriate management of pain at their request (passive euthanasia),
even if the patients' choices hasten their deaths. Additionally, futile or disproportionately burdensome
treatments, such as life-support machines, may be withdrawn under specified circumstances and,
under federal law and most state laws only with the informed consent of the patient or, in the event
of the incompetence of the patient, with the informed consent of the legal surrogate. The Supreme
Court of the United States has not dealt with "quality of life issues" or "futility issues" and appears to
only condone active or passive "euthanasia" (not legally defined) when there is clear and convincing
evidence that informed consent to the euthanasia, passive or active, has been obtained from the
competent patient or the legal surrogate of the incompetent patient.
While active euthanasia is illegal throughout the US, assisted suicide is legal
in Oregon, Washington,Vermont, one county inNew Mexico, and is de facto legal in Montana.[56][57]

Since 1932 the Penal Code of Uruguay, article 37, accept Compassionate Homicide, the first legal
document that include euthanasia. It's important to say that this legal document didn't use this
denomination. In another article, 127, the judge could waive the doctor, if this action was made by
patient pledge and the doctor had an honorable reputation.[58] The main source of this Penal Code
was Jimenz de Asa, a Spanish penalist, that introduce this concept in his book "Libertad de amar
y derecho a morir: ensayos de un criminalista sobre eugenesia, eutanasia, endocrinologa",
published in Madrid/Spain, in 1928.[59] The first proposal to understand Euthanasia as homicide was
made by Ruy Santos in his MD thesis, "Da resistencia dos estados mrbidos therapeutica e da

incurabilidade perante a euthansia", at Faculdade de Medicina da Bahia/Brazil, in 1928. He made a

difference between Euthanasia as homicide and Euthanasia as suicide, probably the first citation
about Assisted Suicide.[60]

Non-governmental organizations[edit]
Further information: Assisted suicide#Organizations in support of assisted suicide
There are a number of historical studies about the thorough euthanasia-related policies of
professional associations. In their analysis, Brody et al. found it necessary to distinguish such topics
as euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, informed consent and refusal, advance directives,
pregnant patients, surrogate decision-making (including neonates), DNR orders, irreversible loss of
consciousness, quality of life (as a criterion for limiting end-of-life care), withholding and withdrawing
intervention, and futility.[61] Similar distinctions presumably are found outside the U.S., as with the
highly contested statements of the British Medical Association. [62][63]
On euthanasia (narrowly defined here as directly causing death), Brody sums up the U.S. medical
NGO arena:
The debate in the ethics literature on euthanasia is just as divided as the debate on physicianassisted suicide, perhaps more so. Slippery-slope arguments are often made, supported by claims
about abuse of voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands.... Arguments against it are based on the
integrity of medicine as a profession. In response, autonomy and quality-of-life-base arguments are
made in support of euthanasia, underscored by claims that when the only way to relieve a dying
patient's pain or suffering is terminal sedation with loss of consciousness, death is a preferable
alternative -- an argument also made in support of physician-assisted suicide. [64]
Other NGOs that advocate for and against various euthanasia-related policies are found throughout
the world. Among proponents, perhaps the leading NGO is the UK's Dignity in Dying, the successor
to the (Voluntary) Euthanasia Society.[65]In addition to professional and religious groups, there are
NGOs opposed to euthanasia[66] found in various countries.

hey were once a family, though not always a happy one.

On one hand is Henedina Laurel-Velasco and her siblings, descendants of Dr.

Jose Rizal, their great-grand uncle. On the other is Mary Ann ManansalaLaurel, who came from rather humbler beginnings in Malabon.
Their common denominator was Mario Laurel, brother to Henedina and
husband to Mary Ann for almost 22 years. Mario and Mary Ann had three
Marios siblings and ex-wife found themselves together again on Monday,
though on opposite sides in a court room in Quezon City.
Mary Ann and their son Patrick stand accused of killing Mario on Sept. 2,
2007. Judge Bernelito Fernandez is hearing Mary Anns petition for bail.
She was arrested at the airport last April 5 on her way back to the United
States. She has since been detained at the Quezon City Jail Female
Dormitory. Her son is in the U.S.
Allegedly upon his mothers instructions, Patrick pulled the plug on Mario, who
was then in a coma. Marios siblings sued Mary Ann and her son for murder,
but the case was dismissed by the prosecutor.
In 2010, the Department of Justice reversed the prosecutors ruling and
ordered the filing of parricide charges against Mary Ann and her son.
Clearly the removal of the life support system and the withholding of medical
treatment upon instructions of respondents Mary Ann and Patrick were the
proximate cause of the death of Mario, according to the DOJ resolution.

Henedina Laurel-Velasco said Mary Anns arrest last April brought back hope
for the family that her brother would get justice.
Its still a very heavy burden on us because we just dont know how this case
is going to turn out to be, she told ABS-CBN News.
We just hope that our brother will still have justice in our lifetime and we will
see closure to the whole case.
Defense counsel Marlon Alexandre Cruz said there was no iota of truth to
the allegation against Mary Ann and her son.
Shes not supposed to be in jail in the first place and there is no evidence
whatsoever, other than the mere say-so of the complainant, who was not even
there when this incident happened, he said.
On the surface, it was said to be a case of euthanasia, an issue thats
especially ticklish in predominantly Catholic Philippines. Catholic teaching
considers direct euthanasia as morally unacceptable.
"Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person
cannot be legitimately interrupted," according to the Catechism of the Catholic
In the 2010 resolution, the DOJ said: Euthanasia in the Philippines as in the
instant case is still murder and any physician who assists a person in taking
his/her own life is liable for the crime of assisting a person to commit suicide
under the Revised Penal Code.
Based on the allegations, there was more to Marios death than mercy killing.

Mary Ann allegedly collected a huge sum in her husbands insurance. She
had also been allegedly divorced from Mario for about three months before
she rushed to his death bed in Manila.
On Monday, the prosecution presented a medico-legal expert to help prove
that based on hospital records, Mario should not have been removed from life
Also taking the witness stand was California-based lawyer Rodel Rodis, who
had take Mary Anns deposition in a separate defamation case against the
Laurel siblings in the U.S.
In the deposition, she made very damaging admissions about her marriage to
Joseph Timbol before she married Mario Laurel, and admissions about the
sequence of events that showed that she already divorced Mario in the U.S.,
already married Timbol, when she then went to the Philippines when Mario
was sick and started asserting herself as the spouse, he said.
She clearly had a motive because she was going to collect $1.75 million and
that proved damaging.
Mary Anns lawyer Cruz said the case clearly had something to do with what
Mario had left behind.
I can assure you that these are utterly trumped-up charges against her and
against the son, he said.
Its ultimately about the estate. Were it not for the dispute about the estate, I
dont think this case would have been filed.

Whatever the truth is, its still a long way to go in this bitter family saga.

I flew to Manila over the July 4th weekend to testify as a witness in a Quezon City
courtroom on July 6 to authenticate the deposition I did of Mary Ann Laurel in my
San Francisco law office close to seven years ago.
She has been charged with parricide for the murder of her former husband, Mario
Laurel, after allegedly directing her son, Patrick Laurel, to turn off Marios life
support system when he was in a coma at the Capitol Medical Center on September 2,
2007, causing his immediate death. Part of the evidence against her were the
admissions she made in that civil deposition.
Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
he deposition I conducted of Mary Ann Laurel on August 22, 2008 was in connection
with the civil lawsuit she filed in Santa Clara County on March 24, 2008 alleging that
her ex-in laws the brother and three sisters of Mario Laurel had defamed her by
accusing her of murdering their brother. The Laurel siblings retained me to defend
them in that civil action.
Damaging admissions

In the course of my whole day deposition of Mary Ann Laurel, she admitted under
penalty of perjury, that:

She had twice married Joseph Timbol. The first time in 1981,
three years after she started working as a flight attendant for
Kuwaiti Airways, and the second time on June 7, 1984. Neither of her
marriages to Timbol was ever annulled before she married Mario

She married Mario Laurel in Reno, Nevada on December 14,

1985. At the time, Mario was a U.S. postal worker who had been
previously married and divorced from Rosalyn Velasquez. Mario, a
U.S. citizen, then petitioned Mary Ann to be a U.S. immigrant. She is
now an American citizen.

She filed her petition for divorce from Mario Laurel in Santa
Clara County Superior Court on July 28, 2006 after they had been
separated for more than a year. Mario was in the Philippines when
he was served with the divorce papers, which he did not contest.
The final judgment of dissolution was granted on June 14, 2007.

A week after her divorce from Mario, Mary Ann married Joseph
Timbol for the third time in Reno, Nevada on June 22, 2007.
After quitting his job as a postman, Mario moved back to the Philippines in 2005. On
August 24, 2007, Mario was brought to San Juan De Dios Hospital in Pasay City
because of high fever and difficulty breathing. Marios sisters, Henedina LaurelVelasco and Isabelita Laurel-Rand, transferred him to Capitol Medical Center in
Quezon City where he then suffered cardiac arrest on August 30, 2007 and went into a
coma after he was revived.
On August 31, 2007, Mary Ann and her daughter, Bianca, arrived in Manila to join her
son, Patrick, who was already in the Philippines. They then proceeded to the hospital
where Mario was confined and, with a lawyer, Mary Ann asserted to Marios two
sisters that she had full charge and authority over Mario and prohibited them from
entering the hospital room of their brother. The two sisters reluctantly complied even
though they protested that Mary Ann was already divorced from Mario and that she
was already married to Timbol.
Pulling the plug
According to the affidavit of Isabelita Laurel-Rand, she returned to the hospital room
of Mario on September 2, 2007 despite Mary Anns ban. While in the hospital room,
she witnessed a nurse hand a piece of paper to Mary Ann, which she then handed over
to Patrick who read the paper and who then asked her, What shall I write as reason?
Mary Ann replied, To prevent prolonging the agony, which Patrick then dutifully
wrote on the paper.

Photo of a young Mario Laurel provided by Henedina Laurel-Velasco.

After Patrick signed the Waiver of Diagnostic Procedures and/or Medical Treatment
hospital form, the nurse asked Isabelita and Bianca to sign as witnesses, which they
did. According to Isabelitas affidavit, she saw the nurse return to her nurses station
and then saw Patrick walk to the life support system attached to Mario. At the
machine, Patrick hesitated and queried But Mom, isnt this murder? Bianca also
voiced out, Isnt it that there are some people, after 10 years come out of their
In her affidavit, Isabelita recalled what happened next: Mary Ann sternly retorted,
Just do it to Patrick and ignored Biancas remark. Thereupon, Patrick switched off
the machine, its lights went off, and then the monitor went flat Mario was gone.

Isabelita said that she then rushed out of the ICU room while crying, called my
sisters to inform them that Marios life support system had been switched off and that
our dear brother had passed away.
Collecting insurance proceeds
After Marios death, Mary Ann obtained certified copies of his death certificate, which
she furnished to his life insurance carriers. In my deposition of Mary Ann on August
22, 2008, I asked her how many insurance policies Mario had with her as the sole
beneficiary. She first declined to answer, but her lawyer, William P. Daley, answered
that there were two. When I asked her how much they were for, she replied, You
know, I didnt know. Upon further prodding, she said, It was half a million. That
was for the first policy. And for the second? The other one was 1.2
Mary Ann Laurel had collected $1.7 million dollars from Marios two insurance
policies. In her deposition, I asked Mary Ann if she had disclosed to the insurance
companies that she had already divorced Mario. She answered, Well, they never ask
Mary Anns admissions in her 2008 deposition, which was contained in a 365-page
binder, formed the basis for my successful motion to dismiss the defamation causes of
action she had filed against my clients. More significantly, they provided the factual
information that resulted in the subsequent filing of criminal charges.
On May 20, 2010, Assistant City Prosecutor Romana Del Rosario filed a criminal
Information against Patrick Laurel and Mary Ann M. Timbol charging that on or
about the 2nd day of Sept, 2007, in Quezon City, Philippines, the
said accused Patrick Laurel, being the son of the deceased Mario
Banaad Laurel, with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously remove the life support system of the
said Mario Banaad Laurel, upon instructions of the accused Mary
Ann M. Timbol, the legitimate spouse of the deceased, and by
withholding of medical treatment by respondent Patrick Laurel,
which resulted to the death of the victim.
The investigation of the Department of Justice as contained in its Resolution
determined that a thorough examination of the record failed to
mention any particular physician who rendered a categorical
declaration from the scientific point of view that Mario was
clinically dead nor a recovery from the coma is nil. Taking the
foregoing into account, it is apparent that although in a coma at the
time, Mario was alive, scientifically and biologically. He expired due
to cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure when the mechanical
ventilator attached to him was turned off.
Motive is irrelevant
The Resolution explained: In this legal jurisdiction, it is not for any
person to decide when a man or a woman is ripe for the taking or

killing while he or she is in a coma. Euthanasia in the Philippines as

in the instant case is still murder A good motive is not
incompatible with an unlawful intent. One may be convicted of a
crime whether his motive appears to be good or bad or even though
no motive is proven. A good motive does not prevent an act from
being a crime.
Even though the murder charge was filed in 2010, Mary Ann was only arrested on
April 5, 2015 when she was about to board a return flight to San Francisco. She had
apparently been in the United States since 2007 and had not returned to Manila until
March of 2015.
Mary Ann Laurel has been incarcerated in a Quezon City jail since then and held
without bail, awaiting trial. Her lawyer, Marlon Alexander Cruz, told ABS-CBN News
reporter Christian Esguerra that there is no iota of truth to any of the allegations
against his client.

Cover page of deposition of Mary Ann Laurel taken on August 22, 2008.
But it is undisputed that it was Patrick Laurel who turned off the life support ventilator
system that kept Mario alive and that he did so at the direction of his mother.
The problem for Cruz and his client is that mercy killing or euthanasia is not legal in
the Philippines. In the U.S., where it is legal, there are strict hospital protocols that
have to be followed before the hospital can pull the plug on a patient.
Hospital protocols
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Fox News legal expert, explained that the law in New
York says if two physicians decide the patient is in a hopelessly vegetative state, and
no natural or unnatural means are likely to return the patient to a cognitive state, and

the patients representative agrees, then the medical center may terminate life
Before I testified in the Quezon City courtroom on July 6, a medico-legal expert, Dr.
Rodel V. Capule, informed the court that his review of the hospital records of Mario
Laurel at the Capitol Medical Center disclosed that Marios vital signs were still in
good order and that he was neither brain dead nor in a vegetative state when his life
support system was turned off.
So even if Mario Laurel had been in a coma and confined in a New York hospital, it
would still have been a crime for Patrick Laurel to pull the plug.
This would be true even if it were simply done to prevent prolonging his agony and
not for the purpose of collecting $1.7 million in insurance proceeds. The mercy
killing of Mario Laurel on September 2, 2007 was still a killing and it was still a
If Mary Ann Laurel is somehow acquitted of the parricide charge, a precedent may be
set effectively legalizing euthanasia in the Philippines.
(Send comments to or mail them to the Law
Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA
94127 or call 415.334.7800).
Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook