Aquino wants sanctions vs Board of Pardons and Parole officials

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Monday, December 9, 2013

(UPDATED) Officials of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) who approved the application of former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste for parole could face sanctions, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday.

Aquino admitted that he was surprised to learn that Leviste was given parole.

He recalled the time when Leviste was caught outside the New Bilibid Prison in 2011.

"Parang noong sinabi na ire-release, sasabihin siguro may good conduct allowance, etcetera. Paano magiging good conduct iyong nasa labas ng piitan habang nagse-serve ng sentence? So hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit maco-consider man lang," he said in an interview in Quezon City where he attended the 80th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).

While the BPP claimed that Leviste has undergone the process and he met all the obligations why he was granted parole, Aquino said there is such a thing as "spirit of the law," which he wanted to be reviewed.

Aquino has tasked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to study the parole granted to Leviste.

"Pinapahanap ko na rin, meron bang sanctions puwede doon sa Board of Pardons and Parole; ni-review ko na rin paano ba naa-appoint diyan sa Board of Pardons and Parole. Ni-review iyong buong system para hindi mangyari uli itong ganito," he added.

Asked if there would also be a possibility to withdraw the parole given to Leviste, he said that it was also part of the review.

Based on his understanding, the President said that the parole could only be taken back if there is an objection from the family of Leviste's victim, Rafael delas Alas.

The family did not oppose the parole.

De Lima met with officials from the BPP and the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) for nearly two hours on Monday in light of Aquino's reservations. She said the President has the right to recall the parole since he is the head of the Executive branch.

"At this point, I see no basis for me to say or for me to conclude that the board (BPP) did not act above board in passing upon that such application for parole. I don't see any reason or indication that there were other considerations other than what are the legal qualifications," she said.

De Lima noted that Leviste was also penalized for his unauthorized trips outside the NBP through restricting his movements and deducting credits from his Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

She said Leviste asked for commutation of sentence and pardon in the past but these were thumbed down by the BPP and her office, respectively.

The former Batangas governor was convicted of homicide for killing his long-time aide in 2007.

"Hindi naman tayo puwedeng gumawa ng panibagong patakaran na magiging retroactive. So medyo hirap akong magkomentaryo pa dito dahil nga pinaaral ko nang masusi lahat nung anggulo na mag-review nitong incident na ito," Aquino said. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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