Aquino can revoke Leviste parole - De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has the power to revoke the decision of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) to grant parole to former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
"That is in fact an option. If the President is not satisfied with the explanation of the board, he would have that option. After all, he is the head of the executive branch. All offices under the executive branch is under him and subject to his control and supervision," De Lima told reporters on Monday, December 9.
A parole is different from an executive clemency. The first is granted by the BPP. The latter by the President.
De Lima met with the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to discuss the controversial parole granted to Leviste. Aquino earlier said it caught him by surprise and he is now mulling sanctions for the parole board. (READ: Aquino mulls sanctions for parole board after Leviste release)
De Lima is preparing a report to explain to the President why the BPP decided to grant Leviste parole.
"The board is standing by its claim that former Governor Antonio Leviste has met all the requirements for parole. According to them, he suffers from no disqualification [based on the manual]," De Lima said.
"I am evaluating those responses (from BPP) so that I can also be guided in making an appropriate recommendation to the President. I hope to put them in memo report that I will submit to him within the day," De Lima added.
Leviste was in jail for 5 years after he was convicted for killing his long-time aide. He became controversial in 2011 when he was caught on camera freely going in and out of prison. He was charged with "evasion of service of sentence" but was eventually acquitted.
De Lima said Leviste's acquittal cleared him of possible disqualification from parole.
"According to the board, he is not deemed to have evaded service of sentence because he was acquitted. I kept asking them what about the fact that he really violated the rules of the BuCor when he figured in the incident in the 2011... the answer was he was already penalized. It would appear that the board of discipline adjudged him liable for grave misconduct on account of that incident and they imposed a penalty," De Lima said.
The BuCor supposedly withheld some of his privileges and restricted his movements.
De Lima expressed "reservations" about the BPP's decision but dismissed "other considerations" that may have influenced the board to favor Leviste.
"I have my own reservations. I think it should be further analyzed. I think the board shouldn't have been technical. He was acquitted of evasion of service of sentence but I'm not sure it's enough to gloss over past misconduct," De Lima said.
"I don’t see any indication that there were other considerations other than what are the legal qualifications. But we will always defer to the decision of the President," she said. – Rappler.com