Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stirred the hornet’s nest when she pardoned Claudio Teehankee Jr. But this is not the first time.
Teehankee, son and namesake of former Supreme Court justice Claudio Teehankee Sr, reportedly walked out a free man last night from the Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City after staying behind bars for 13 years for the 1995 murder of Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman and the shooting of Jussi Leino, who survived the attack.
Teehankee’s release came barely a year after Arroyo awarded executive clemency to former president Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder on September 12, 2007. He was sentenced to reclusion perpetua and faced a 40-year imprisonment.
More than a month after, he was pardoned on October 25, 2007.
Estrada requested for pardon in an October 22 letter written by his legal counsels and signed by his main lawyer Jose Flaminiano.
Meanwhile, critics assailed Estrada’s pardon as Arroyo’s desperate move to secure political survival.
Shortly after Estrada’s release, Arroyo pardoned Sgt. Pablo Martinez, one of the 13 surviving persons of the original 15 people convicted of killing former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and his alleged gunman, Rolando Galman on August 21, 1983.
Martinez spent 24 years in jail, half of the 40-year adjusted sentence handed out to him by the Sandiganbayan.
Now 70 years old, he requested Arroyo for the executive clemency with the assistance of Persida Rueda-Acosta, head of the Public Attorney’s Office.
Aquino’s widow, former president Corazon Aquino along with the rest of their family, bewailed Martinez’s pardon as a form of vengeance for the Aquino matriarch’s disapproval of Arroyo.
Just recently, this May 2008, Arroyo freed nine officers of the Magdalo force which attempted to unseat her through a mutiny staged in Oakwood hotel, Makati on July 27, 2003.
Two of those who were pardoned were Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrocampo, who led the coup d’etat with now Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. One of their co-officers in Magdalo group, Capt. Nick Faeldon, has yet to be brought to justice after he escaped from custody on December 14, 2005.
Gambala sought the pardon on April 11 after he, along with the nine officers, were found guilty of participating in the 2003 mutiny by a Makati regional trial court on April 8.
Gambala and Maestrocampo were slapped with life imprisonment while the nine officers—Captains Alvin Ebreo, Laurence Louis Somera, Albert Baloloy and John Andres, 1st Lt. Florentino Somera, 2nd Lt. Kristoffer Bryan Yasay and 1st Lt. Cleo Dongga—were sentenced to 6-12 years in jail.
Before the April 8 verdict, however, they pulled a surprise act and changed their “not guilty plea” to “guilty” before the military court on April 2.
Then AFP chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon recommended them for pardon after they sang a different tune.
But the year, has in fact, started on a note of “mercy.”
On January 25, 2008, Secretary Raul Gonzalez signed Norberto Manero’s release papers, laying into place a sentence commutation which has stretched for three administrations.
Manero was sentenced to reclusion perpetua for 20-40 years in imprisonment in 1985 for killing and reportedly eating the brains of Italian priest Tullio Favali along with his brothers and suspected co-Ilaga commanders Edilberto and Elpidio.
Ilaga is a vigilante group which has gained notoriety in the 1980s for launching a bloody campaign against communist forces.
In 1998, then President Fidel Ramos ordered the commutation of Manero’s sentence to 24 years.
The following year, when Estrada became president, he granted Manero a conditional pardon, but later withdrew it after he found out that the priest killer was also facing a kidnapping and double murder case in Sarangani province.
In 2005, after serving his term, Manero wrote a letter to Pres. Arroyo, asking for executive clemency. This would be followed by another letter, which would come from his wife, Evelyn. Two years after, in 2007, Manero was considered for release.He has to wait for another year, however, after Gonzalez said he has to first study Manero’s records.
Last year, news of pardon for convicted rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte representative Romeo Jalosjos triggered public furor.
Jalosjos, who was found of guilty of raping an 11-year-old girl in 1996, was meted two life terms, equivalent to 80 years plus another 8-15 years for each of the six counts of lasciviousness charged against him.
In 2004, he was confined in a hospital after complaining of chest pains. Angelina Jalosjos, his mother, appealed to Arroyo to grant his son pardon on the ground of having health problems.
But Jalosjos was eventually considered not fit for pardon, as he has not yet reached 70 years old. Memorandum Circular No. 155, which was issued in 2004, stipulates that prisoners who have reached 70 years old and above could be awarded executive clemency for humanitarian reasons.
Malacanang, however, commuted his sentence to 16 years last April 30.
Six months after, in December, Jalosjos returned to Dapitan City after he was handed out his release papers by officers at the Bureau of Corrections.
But the Department of Justice blocked the release, and Jalosjos was put in the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City.