MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he is looking into the possibility of imposing sanctions against officials of the Board of Pardons and Parole who approved the parole application of former Batangas Governor Jose Antonio Leviste.
“Pinahanap 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,” Aquino told reporters in a chance interview during the anniversary celebration of the Department of Labor and Employment in Quezon City.
In questioning the approval of the parole application, Aquino noted that Leviste’s “escape” two years ago is not indicative of good conduct.
“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.
Leviste was charged with murder for the 2007 shooting of his long-time aide Rafael de las Alas. He was convicted in January 2009 for the lesser offense of homicide, with the court saying the killing of De las Alas did not appear to be premeditated.
He was punished to serve a minimum sentence of six years and a maximum sentence of 12 years, but it was slashed to just a little under five years after he earned “good conduct time allowance.”
He re-emerged in the headlines in May 2011 when he was reported to have “escaped” from prison. He was re-arrested, transferred to the maximum security facility, and was slapped with fresh charges of evasion of service of sentence.
Last November, the Board of Pardon and Parole approved Leviste’s parole application, allowing him to be released last week.
Aquino, however, said he was surprised after learning about this, prompting him to order a probe as announced by the Palace on Sunday.
“Hindi ko maintidihan kung bakit napalaya ang isang taong … nakapiit na ay hindi pa rin sumusunod sa batas,” he said.
The problem, Aquino said, is that the parole grant supposedly went through the proper process and that the victim’s family did not object.
“Ganunpaman … sabihin na nating may letter of the law na nasunod; merong tinatawag na spirit of the law at iyon ang gusto kong mai-review nang husto,” he said.
Asked if there is still a possibility that the parole may be taken back, he said they are still reviewing the possibility.
“So medyo hirap akong magkomentaryo pa dito dahil nga pinaaral ko nang masusi lahat nung anggulo na mag-review nitong incident na ito,” he said. (MNS)