MANILA (UPDATE) - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday revealed she cleared the parole granted to former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste but she is now considering taking it back.
De Lima said she is set to submit a recommendation to the President after she finishes reviewing the parole granted to Leviste, who was convicted in 2009 for the death of an aide.
In 2011, Leviste was charged but acquitted by a Makati court over a charge of evasion of sentence over unauthorized furloughs from jail.
The justice chief said she already submitted to President Aquino one memorandum on the justifications of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) for granting Leviste's parole.
However , she is set to submit a second memorandum on her views.
De Lima told media that after further review, she feels the BPP glossed over the evasion of sentence when it gave weight to his acquittal in that charge.
She said a justice department fact-finding team showed there was evasion of sentence on the part of Leviste.
"Yan ang kasama sa pinag-aralan ko. Either, dalawa lang options diyan - bawiin or hindi. Sa tingin ko, yes. Can we just wait for, ayoko pangunahan Pangulo legally. Yes, the BPP and DOJ are all under the Executive Department and the President is head of all executive agencies. The BPP manual doesn't provide yung ganyan. Ni-review ko BPP, BPP itself can withdraw or cancel parole granted pero grounds limited sa kung may misrepresentaton or concealment on the part of parolee. Wala ako nakikita applicable yan," she said.
De Lima pointed out that the President is wondering why Leviste was given parole when he was charged for unauthorized furloughs out of jail.
"Ang punto rin ng Pangulo - paano credit good conduct sa insidente in 2011 na lumalabas siya na walang permiso? Living out doesn't mean leave, out of prison facility. That's not the concept."
She added: "Nakikita kong issue at diniscuss ay yung interpretasyon ng board sa ground for disqualification, na pag applicant has escaped confinement or evaded service of sentence. Interpretasyon ng BPP dahil acquitted si Mr. Leviste sa evasion of service di applicable ground na yan. That's an open question, contentious issue. Sa tingin ko walang nakalagay sa BPP manual. Kailangan may conviction. Parang BPP glossed over the findings of DOJ fact-finding committee na may explicit findings na lumabas si Leviste without appropriate authority."
The justice secretary said nothing is final yet and took responsibility for the grant of the parole.
She said paroles are not brought up to the Office of the President or the secretary of justice anymore, unlike executive clemencies or pardons.
She also said she got a heads-up prior to the grant of Leviste's parole.
"I must say, may heads up ako. Alam ko iyan. Clinear yan sa akin. Clinear sa akin because may BPP resolution. I'm not denying that clinear sa akin. Dalawa kasi tinanong ko sa kanila - dumaan sa tamang pruseso na-meet ba requirements? Oo. Dito na lang sa pagreview nakita ko na mukhang may issue sa pag interpret ground for disqualification. Bakit di kinonsider?"
Leviste was freed from New Bilibid Prison last Friday.
De Lima said the final decision is the President's, adding that Leviste still needs to be monitored by a parole officer.
"If one is out on parole, that's a temporary release. State supervised custody kasi nga may naka-assign na parole officer. Parole officer part ng trabaho niya is bantayan to make sure na di lumalabag sa mga regulasyon, sa mga batas kasi kung may ganyang violation, that's ground for revocation pag na-violate conditions ng parole."