MANILA, Philippines -- After Claudio Teehankee Jr., another prominent murder convict, Rolito Go, found guilty of killing of a young man during a traffic altercation, is likely to be granted presidential pardon soon.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said on Tuesday that Go, who shot dead Eldon Maguan in 1991, has become eligible for presidential pardon because he had served "more than half" of his life sentence.
He added that the Maguan family had accepted the civil damages the court ordered Go to pay them.
"He is eligible [for pardon]," Gonzalez told reporters after attending the Senate finance committee?s hearing of his department?s proposed 2009 budget.
At the Senate hearing chaired by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Gonzalez was asked to explain the executive clemency granted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Teehankee, who was released from prison October 2.
Cluadio, son of the late Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Sr., was convicted in 1992 for the 1991 killing of 16-year-old Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman, and the shooting and wounding of Jussi Leino.
Saying that the petition for pardon of Teehankee had been pending for three to four years now, Gonzalez said all in all, Teehankee was computed to have served "21 years and three months" for the crime. This included total jail time he served and credits given to him for good behavior, according to the justice secretary.
He said Teehankee served a total jail time of 17 years and two months at the Makati City Jail and the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
As for the credit given to him for good behavior, Gonzalez said the computation was four years and 22 days.
"On the basis of that, the President commuted his remaining jail term," he told the Senate hearing.
Explaining to reporters, Gonzalez said: "Let?s say he should serve 20 years more. That was commuted, so the net effect there would be that he has served his full term. That is what happened."
Asked whether President Arroyo can withdraw her pardon of Teehankee, he said: "I don?t think so unless there are extraordinary circumstances."
The justice secretary also shrugged off allegations that Teehankee?s pardon became possible because he came from an influential family.
"There will always be critics...especially in the media," he said.
When asked if Go was next in line for presidential pardon, Gonzalez conceded that Go had submitted a petition for executive clemency.
Commutation would reduce his prison term from 20 to 12 years. He has served 13 years.
Gonzalez said before, the Maguan family did not want to accept the civil damages Go was ordered to pay them.
"But lately as I said there seems to be some sort of a thaw because they?ve already accepted the payment of the civil suit,?? he said.
Bureau of Corrections Director Oscar Calderon, who attended the Senate budget hearing, when asked about Go?s case, said "there is an ongoing process."
He said Go?s petition has been submitted to the Bureau of Corrections and Board of Pardons and Paroles.
"We are just waiting for the computation of time served," he said.
"Once he has satisfied the minimum requirements as provided by law, then we can?t do anything. The person is entitled regardless?" Calderon told reporters.