Aquino pardons 8 inmates but not ‘Abadilla 5’



The hopes of the “Abadilla 5,” in prison since 1996, that they would be home for Christmas have been dashed.

President Benigno Aquino III did not act favorably on the recommendation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to grant executive clemency to the five convicted killers of Lt. Col. Rolando Abadilla, an intelligence chief of the Philippine Constabulary who gained notoriety as an alleged torturer of political prisoners during martial law.

“I’m hoping that it would be acted upon in time for Christmas. I think there’s a chance. But of course that’s the prerogative of the President,” De Lima said in an interview at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City almost two weeks ago.

Those who got a Christmas gift from President Aquino in the form of executive clemency were eight elderly inmates—seven men and one woman.

Six of the inmates were granted conditional pardon: Agustin Caballero, 71; Nicanor Medel, 72; Clarita Miranda, 71; Pablito Estrada, 73; Felipe Gahit Sr., 72; and Venerando Generalao, 83.

The pardons were signed by Mr. Aquino on Dec. 21 and the convicts were immediately released the next day, De Lima said on Friday.

Two inmates had their original sentences commuted: Aurelio Amolong, 85, and Celerino Sanchez, 82. They were deemed to have served the minimum of their prison terms and may apply for parole.

Humanitarian act

“This humanitarian act on the part of the President is a signal that the recognition of the principle of restorative justice prevails in our justice system. We recognize that crimes must be punished.

“But, at the same time, we also acknowledge that true justice means that those who have recognized and suffered for their mistakes, and who have shown not just their remorse but also their sincerity in becoming better citizens and members of the communities, deserve to be given a second chance,” De Lima said.


Family, love, forgiveness

“These inmates, furthermore, are in the twilight years of their lives. We don’t only wish to give these inmates the gift of freedom, but also to give them and their loved ones the opportunity to spend this period of time together as a family. After all, that is what Christmas is about to us Filipinos: Family, love and forgiveness,” she added.

The Department of Justice’s Board of Pardons and Parole recommended the commutation of the sentences of the Abadilla 5—Lenido Lumanog, Cesar Fortuna, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus and Augusto Santos—in November 2011, but De Lima pushed for conditional pardon instead.

In a commutation of sentence, a convict has to acknowledge guilt. No such requirement is called for in a conditional pardon, but it could be revoked if the convict commits another crime.

Lack of reasonable doubt

In an earlier interview, she explained the main reason for her recommendation of executive clemency to the President. “To me there’s a moral certainty about the lack of reasonable doubt,” the justice secretary said.

De Lima noted that some justices dissented in the Supreme Court decision upholding the conviction of the Abadilla 5.

She also said that when she chaired the Commission on Human Rights, questions about the credibility of the witness nagged her.

The Supreme Court affirmed in February 2011 the Court of Appeals’ decision upholding the conviction of Lumanog, Fortuna, Santos and Joel de Jesus and Rameses de Jesus by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

The five insisted they were innocent and accused their police captors of torturing them into admitting the crime.


Hit squad

Abadilla was killed while his car was stopped in traffic on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City on June 13, 1996.

The communist-led hit squad Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) claimed responsibility for the killing. As proof of the deed, they turned in Abadilla’s watch to “running priest” Robert Reyes.


The pardoned convicts, meanwhile, were required to report to their parole and probation officers.

They are barred from changing their addresses without the consent of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP). They must also permit the local police and BPP officials to visit them and they must truthfully answer the authorities’ questions.

The terms of the pardon state that the convicts shall indulge in no injurious or vicious habits, shall avoid places or persons of disreputable or harmful character, and shall not commit any crime and conduct themselves in an orderly manner.

“The moment they violate these conditions, they will be sent back to prison,” De Lima said.

She said the Bureau of Corrections “temporarily deferred” the release of one of the inmates as the agency was awaiting the schedule of a ship that would bring him to his destination.

Philippine Presidents traditionally grant pardons and commutations during Christmas, Easter and other important occasions.

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  • coldfeet

    mas marami pa deserving diyan keysa abadilla5.. dapat diyan bitay sana.. sayang at walang death penalty..buhay inutang..buhay kabayaran…

    • Jezzrel


    • boldyak



    ang pagpaslang kay abadilla ay hustisya sa mga na-torture, ipinakulong, at pinapatay niya noong martial law ng kanyang amo na si ferdinand marcos. inamin na ng alex boncayao brigade ang pagpatay, bakit nasa kulungan pa din ang abadilla 5?

    • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

      “ang pagpaslang kay abadilla ay hustisya sa mga na-torture, ipinakulong,
      at pinapatay niya noong martial law ng kanyang amo na si ferdinand

      kelan naging hustisya ang pag bigay ng penalty ng walang dinaanang court trial?

      kahit pa itumbas natin si abadilla kay hitler, hindi ba dapat dumaan sa tamang prosesso ang lahat?

      hustisya ba na pag alam ko na sukdulang kasamaan ng kapit bahay ko, pwede ko na syang paslangin sa ngalan ng hustisya?

      “inamin na ng alex boncayao brigade ang pagpatay, bakit nasa kulungan pa din ang abadilla 5?”

      dahil ayon sa court trascripts, maraming saksi na sa 7 na nasasakdal 5 ay may malakas na ebidensya na kasapi sila sa gumawa ng KRIMEN.

      • kalikasanipagtanggol

         kailan din naging tama ang pagdukot, pag-assassinate sa mga labor, student activists? nung panahon ni marcos umaasa ka na may hustisya?

      • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

        So my stand is not to drop down to that level. You already know the former is bad, why add to that?

  • les21reago

     After all, that is what Christmas is about to us Filipinos: family, love and forgiveness,” she said.
    Only then the country will be united and march towards PROGRESS but NO to POLITICAL Dynasty…


      Pardon GMA and marcos to libingan ng mga bayani???? Para ano? para pamarisan sila ng ibang mga pulitiko?? Ipa pardon naman pala.

      Ang mga corrupt na pulitiko ay dapat maparusahan at maging halimbawa sa mga mamamayan na ang pangungurakot sa gobyerno ay masama at magdudulot ng kaparusahan.

      • les21reago

         At sino na ang naparusahan aber…yung Hospital arrest…yung PCGG ano ang nakuha nila at SINO ang nakikinabang…yung pag ka CONVICT ni ERAP sa Plunderer naparusahan ba..
        – Ika nga Marcos pa rin.
        – Erap pa rin ang Pilipino.
        – Binay pa rin.
        – Enrile pa rin.
        NAKAW pa rin dba?


        Salamat naiba si PNoy, the incorruptbile president. Hindi ka makapaniwala dahil akala mo corruption is the normal thing.

        With PNoy, good governance is the new normal.

        Aquino pa rin.

        Si arroyo hindi malaya. bantay sarado ng mga pulis. si erap binigyan ng conditional pardon ni arroyo, tapus kinalaban nya.LOL! si erap loser kay PNoy!LOL!

      • les21reago

          is what Christmas is about to us Filipinos: family, love and forgiveness,”
        The foregoing LINES is the POINT of discussion…Ang nagsabi nyan si Sec. De Lima…
        Now kung totoo yung LINYA dapat hinde SELECTIVE o  walang double standard.
        – ipardone si CGMA at ilibing si Marcos sa LNMB.
        kasi ikaw Juan De La Cruz ay;
        – Marcos pa rin.
        – Aquino pa rin.
        – Enrile pa rin.
        – Erap pa rin.
        – Binay pa rin.
        – Arroyo/ Macapagal pa rin.
        Ang LAHAT ay nakaw pa rin..
        Bantay sarado man nang Pulis ang Hospital ay iba yan sa KULUNGAN o City Jail na bantay sarado din nang kapulisan..
        The corruption in PNOY government is Rampant in Rice smuggling and in the Custom Bureau as Journalist Tiglao pointed out of his gathered datas from the World Bank…In fact sa FDI or foreign direct investment, PNOY government has the lowest FDI as to compare during the Erap and Arroyo’s reign and so  also the highest in Rice smuggling.


        By 2014, the philippines will stop importing rice, unlike 9 years of arroyo binaboy ang rice importation.

        9 years ni arroyo nag iwan ng 40,000 shortage sa classrooms, PNoy is building 10,000 in 2012 to 2013 and 20,000 more in the next 2 years.

        tourist arrivals in 2011 is 3.5 million, 4 M in 2012 compared to only 2 million per year in 9 years of arroyo.

        the stock market reached 38 all time highs in 2012.

        the credit rating of the philippines was upgraded 8 times in just 2 years under PNoy, downgraded 7 times under 9 years of arroyo.

        Aquino pa rin.

        Justice before forgiveness. The concept of detention is the same whether in a cell, house, or hospital. you have no freedom. an ex-president and present congresswoman with no freedom.LOL!!

      • kalikasanipagtanggol

         “By 2014, the philippines will stop importing rice”

        Willing ka ba pumusta at magkano? pupustahan kita na ang pilipinas ay mananatili mag-iimport ng  bigas sa 2014…


         Is that you erap???

  • Your_King

    Aquino’s justice system is also known as Aquino’ selective justice system. He jails who he wants to jail and bails who he wants to bail. It doesn’t matter the evidence or reasons behind the decision. The only reason that matters to Aquino is that he wants it. 

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