TIMELINE: Abadilla 5
June 13, 1996. Retired Col. Rolando Abadilla, an intelligence officer during the Marcos regime, is ambushed and killed while driving along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. He was 54. The communist death squad Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) claims responsibility.
June 19, 1996. Police arrest a pedicab driver, Joel de Jesus, in Fairview, Quezon City, citing information from a security guard who claimed to have seen the killing. Tortured, De Jesus implicates his neighbors—Lenido Lumanog, Rameses de Jesus, Cesar Fortuna and Augusto Santos. The suspects become known as the “Abadilla 5.” Police extract confessions from the five, who say they were beaten, electrocuted, suffocated and given the “water treatment.” Police deny the allegations.
Aug. 11, 1999. Quezon City Judge Jaime Salazar convicts the Abadilla 5 and sentences them to death by lethal injection. The conviction is based solely on the testimony of one eyewitness and the “tortured” confessions of the Abadilla 5. The guilty verdict was not corroborated by any physical evidence.
Dec. 26, 1999. The ABB issues another statement, signed by its commanding officer Carapali Lualhati, who says Abadilla was “meted out revolutionary justice.” He says the Abadilla 5 “are mere fall guys [who] have nothing to do with the ABB.”
January 2000. Fr. Robert Reyes petitions Judge Salazar to reopen the case. The “running priest” wants to present in court a piece of evidence—a gold-plated Omega De Ville Quartz 1377 wrist watch—which he says was turned over to him by an ABB leader. Reyes says the watch was taken by the ABB from Abadilla during the ambush. Salazar rejects Reyes’ petition; the Supreme Court upholds the decision.
October 2000. Amnesty International condemns the torture of the Abadilla 5: “The case … illustrates a fundamental failure in the protection of human rights and a pattern of torture of criminal suspects in the Philippines.”
April 2008. The Court of Appeals affirms the conviction of the Abadilla 5, saying the uncorroborated testimony of the lone witness was enough to establish their guilt. Even if the claims of torture were true, this did not mean the Abadilla 5 were innocent, it says. The court, citing the abolition of capital punishment, reduces the death sentence of the Abadilla 5 to 40-year terms with no parole.
Sept. 15, 2010. The Supreme Court affirms the conviction.
Feb. 8, 2011. Voting 9-4, the Supreme Court throws out their motion for reconsideration.
June 11, 2011. The Abadilla 5 ask President Aquino for compassion in a letter signed with their blood.
November 2011. The Board of Pardons and Parole recommends to the President the commutation of the sentences to 16 years. The Abadilla 5 have been in prison for 16 years.
Dec, 21, 2012. President Aquino grants pardon to eight elderly inmates during the Christmas season, but not to the Abadilla 5.
Source: Inquirer Archives
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.