Aquino still evaluating clemency for ‘Abadilla 5’By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III continues to evaluate the Board of Pardons and Parole’s recommendation for the commutation of the sentences of five men convicted of the 1996 killing of Rolando Abadilla, Malacañang said Saturday.
“With regards to the Abadilla 5, that’s still being processed and evaluated,” Abigail Valte, one of President Aquino’s spokespersons, said in response to a prelate’s claim that the Aquino administration was stingy in the granting of parole to prisoners, including the Abadilla 5.
It has been months since Board of Pardons and Parole recommended to the Office of the President the commutation of the sentence of the “Abadilla 5” to 16 years. If this is approved, they would be released since they have served 16 years.
The Abadilla 5 are Lenido Lumanog, Cesar Fortuna, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus and Augusto Santos.
“And remember, the President is very careful when it comes to pardons and parole because he must be certain that there’s compliance with the requirements. And the President is very particular about this because he has to be sure that the grant of executive clemency comes at the appropriate time,” Valte said in a radio interview.
Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo had lamented that the appeals for commutation have hardly moved, citing the case of Lumanog, who has been confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute for months now due to a weak transplanted kidney.
New Bilibid Prison chaplain Monsignor Bobby Olaguer said the slow processing of parole petitions was contributing to congestion at the national penitentiary.
In an interview months ago, Lumanog said the wait for the commutation of their sentences and subsequent release had become “painfully long.” He said he hoped the government would be “more compassionate.”
“This is very painful for us. Since December last year, we were thinking we’d be set free. New Year came, and we were hoping again to be set free. Come Valentine’s Day, we also expected our release. It’s very hard to be imprisoned for a very long time, especially for a very sick person, on false charges,” he said.
The Supreme Court affirmed in February 2011 the Court of Appeals’ ruling upholding the conviction of the Abadilla 5 by the Quezon City regional trial court.
Lumanog and his co-accused claimed they were innocent and accused their police captors of torturing them into admitting the crime.
Abadilla, the intelligence chief of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary’s Metropolitan Command who gained notoriety for allegedly torturing political prisoners during martial law, was ambushed and killed while driving along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City on June 13, 1996. The communist hit squad Alex Boncayao Brigade subsequently claimed responsibility for the killing, sending the authorities Abadilla’s wristwatch.