MANILA, Philippines – With President Benigno Aquino III having the power to revoke parole, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has submitted for the President’s review her recommendations on the parole granted to convicted killer and former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Chief submitted a memorandum – her second one on the issue – to the country’s chief executive on Friday, December 13.
“Yung second memorandum ko, yun naman ang aking posisyon, yung aking insights and views kung tama ba yung pagkakabigay ng parole. At nagbigay din po ako ng recommendation. But in deference to the President, out of respect to him, hindi ko muna ishi-share sa inyo kung anong laman ng aking memorandum. Gusto ko mag-usap muna kami,” she said after a press briefing on the Meralco price hike probe on Monday, December 16. (My second memorandum includes my position, insights and views if the granting of the parole [to Leviste] was correct. But in deference to the President, out of respect to him, I will defer sharing its content. I want to be able to speak with him first.)
De Lima has, however, previously admitted that the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) might have committed a lapse in granting Leviste’s parole.
Leviste was found guilty of killing his employee Rafael de las Alas in 2009. The BPP’s decision gives him conditional release for a set period of time, with full liberty granted upon having met the conditions of his temporary release.
The justice secretary expects to be called for a meeting with the President, adding that the decision on whether to retain or revoke the parole lies with Aquino.
“He can intervene – act either to affirm or reverse the grant of parole of the BPP. And rememeber, he is the head of the executive branch, so all executive offices [are] under his control and supervision,” she said.
Apart from Leviste’s case, De Lima has also “called the attention of the President” to an apparent error in the composition of the BPP.
“Ang chairman dapat ng BPP is the secretary of justice himself or herself or his or her representative. And then yung iba doon sociologists, academe, lawyers’ groups, etc,” she explained based on the law.
(The supposed chairman of the BPP is the secretary of justice himself or herself or his or her representative. Others there include sociologists, academics, lawyers’ groups, etc.)
Two executive orders (EOs) issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in effect modified the BPP’s structure, rendering the justice secretary out of chairmanship.
De Lima’s position on the matter, however, is that an EO cannot amend an existing law.
“It’s time to review the composition of BPP,” she said. – Rappler.com