Pardon for ‘Abadilla 5’ sought anew
MANILA, Philippines—The spouses of two of those convicted in the 1996 killing of Colonel Rolando Abadilla on Wednesday asked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima anew to pardon their husbands.
Melanie De Jesus and Marilou Lumanog said the Department of Justice submitted its memorandum to Malacañang last year, recommending presidential pardon for the so-called Abadilla 5: Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus, Lenido Lumanog, Joel De Jesus, and Augusto Santos.
The five have maintained their innocence and claimed that they were tortured into admitting they murdered Abadilla on June 13, 1996 along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.
“We hope that our husbands will be released soon. We hope we can still spend time with them,” De Jesus said. Her husband Rameses is suffering from hypertension.
“They are already sick and we want to take care of them and be with them,” Lumanog told reporters during their visit at the justice department Wednesday. Her husband had a kidney transplant in 2004 and is suffering from diabetes.
Last year, the Supreme Court affirmed with finality the Court of Appeals’ decision convicting the five for the death of Abadilla.
The high court agreed with the appellate court that eyewitness account of principal witness Freddie Alejo, a security guard then assigned at 211 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City, is credible. Alejo vividly recounted before the trial court the five’s respective positions and participation in the murder of Abadilla, having been able to witness closely how they committed the crime.
The Court of Appeals 16th Division affirmed the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 103 convicting the five.
The lower court sentenced them to suffer the death penalty but since Republic Act 7659 had been amended, the appeals court modified the penalty to 20 years and one day to 40 years imprisonment or reclusion perpetua without the benefit of parole.
De Lima last year said that while legally there is nothing that they can do, for humanitarian reasons, their request can be granted.
The BPP transmitted to the Office of the President last September its recommendation seeking to have the life sentences of the convicts reduced to 16 years each.
Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta has said that if the credits the five have earned for good behavior, the sentences could be considered as having been served.
Aside from the backing of the Public Attorney’s Office, the Abadilla 5 also obtained the support of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for the commutation. With a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.