Ex-Batangas guv released from jail

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Friday, December 6, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste walked out of prison on Friday after the government granted the convicted killer parole for serving his minimum sentence and showing good behavior while in detention.

"It's confirmed. Leviste is now free," said Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) Director Franklin Bucayu in a text message.

Leviste was released at 11:20 a.m.

He said Leviste's application was approved by the Board of Pardon and Parole, along with 33 other prisoners, on Thursday after spending six of his 12-year jail sentence as punishment for killing his friend, Rafael delas Alas, in 2007.

Leviste was convicted by the Makati Regional Trial Court of homicide in January 2009.

Separately, Parole and Probation Administrator Manuel Co said Leviste's application for temporary freedom was approved because he was found not guilty of evading his sentence when he left the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City in May 2011.

That incident even led to the resignation of then Bucor Director Ernesto Diokno after receiving criticism for alleged lax security and special treatment for some prisoners.

Five prison officials led by former NBP Superintendent Armando Miranda were fired due to charges of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Co said the Bucor considered Leviste a good inmate despite the incident. The former politician earned "good conduct time allowance" for spreading the word of God and providing legal assistance to his fellow prisoners.

"I was told also that the family of the victim did not object and has expressed that they have forgiven Mr. Leviste," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The parole official, however, clarified that Leviste will be sent back to prison to complete his sentence if he will violate the conditions in his temporary freedom.

Co said Leviste has to report to the parole probation officer within 15 days after he was freed and once a month in the area where he will reside. He could not leave the Philippines without the officer's approval.

Leviste was also warned not to own a gun or any deadly weapon and avoid involvement in criminal activities. He could not change his residential address and must be available if the parole officer visits him, Co said.

If arrested, he shall get in touch with his parole officer within two days.

Leviste is the former husband of Senator Loren Legarda. (Sunnex)

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