MANILA, Philippines – A Catholic bishop criticized President Aquino for being too slow in granting executive clemency to elderly criminals.
In a CBCPNews report, Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo said Aquino should give attention to “common prisoners” languishing in jails for a long time.
“Our observation with the current administration is that it’s too close-fisted in granting parole or executive clemency,” he said.
“In the national penitentiary, some inmates are already around 80 years old while others are already in wheelchairs. For humanitarian reason, I think they should be granted clemency,” Arigo said.
Arigo is the vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He made the statement as the Church marks the yearly Prison Awareness Week.
Rodolfo Diamante, ECPPC executive secretary, noted there are about 96,000 inmates across the country with hundreds already recommended by the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) for amnesty.
“We are just hoping that those who are already 70 years old and above be granted executive clemency,” Diamante said.
Last December, Aquino said the government is reviewing the guidelines for executive clemency, which includes the granting of presidential pardon to convicts.
Aquino said he wants the system reviewed because he has qualms about granting pardon to those convicted of crimes such as rape and drug pushing.
But the CBCP official said it seems that Aquino needs to be careful because the guidelines he set is “very difficult to follow.”
“The guidelines that he wants are very retributive and past-oriented. I hope the Office of the President will review it again to make it more rehabilitation-driven in granting executive clemency,” Diamante said.