Palace: Parole for Abadilla 5 under studyBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III continues to evaluate the Board of Pardons and Parole’s (BPP) recommendation for the commutation of the sentences of five men convicted of the 1996 killing of Lt. Col. Rolando Abadilla, Malacañang said Saturday.
“With regards to the Abadilla 5, that’s still being processed and evaluated,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in response to a prelate’s claim that the Aquino administration has been stingy in granting parole to prisoners, including the Abadilla 5.
The BPP has recommended to the Office of the President the commutation of the sentences of the “Abadilla 5” to 16 years. If approved, they could be released since they have been in prison for 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 over government-run dzRB radio.
Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo had lamented that the appeals for commutation had 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 Msgr. Bobby Olaguer said the slow processing of parole petitions was contributing to the 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’s 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 coaccused insisted they were innocent and accused their police captors of torturing them into admitting the crime.