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Palace defends Teehankee pardon

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‘No complaint from Hultmans’–Ermita

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:49:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Malacañang has defended President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s grant of executive clemency to a controversial murder convict, saying this underwent a “very rigorous review.”

Claudio Teehankee Jr.,who was convicted for the 1991 murders of 16-year-old Maureen Hultman and 21-year-old Roland John Chapman was released from the National Bilibid Prisons on Friday evening.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that as early as 1999, the Hultman family had agreed to a P6-million settlement with the Teehankees. Under the terms of the settlement, the Hultmans would get the Teehankees’ house in San Juan if the convict failed to pay the full amount.

“This was committed [against] the Hultmans, and the Hultmans did not object when asked about the possibility of giving Mr. Teehankee pardon,” Ermita told reporters in Malacañang.

“The Hultmans thought there was remorse on the part of Mr Teehankee. He has served his time, and therefore, they did not object when they were asked during the processing of his paper…That’s a major factor [in the President’s decision],” he added.

Ermita said the grant of executive clemency was Arroyo’s prerogative.

“There really is nothing special about it except for the fact that he is a prominent personality,” he said.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, for his part, said he was informed that the Hultmans had been advised of the impending release of Teehankee and posed no objection.

“I also assume that he has already paid the civil indemnity to the family of the victim,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez admitted that Teehankee’s brother, Manuel, a former justice undersecretary, dropped by his office one time and asked if Claudio could be released on parole.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza pointed out that Teehankee was only one of 292 prisoners that were granted executive clemency in an order dated September 28.

Asked about perceptions the clemency order on Teehankee was kept secret, Dureza said: “There is no such thing as secrecy. When we grant clemency it’s publicly announced, although some malicious minds will probably give it that spin.”

Earlier, he told radio station dzMM that the case of Teehankee was “subject to very rigorous review, it was even reviewed twice.”

For good conduct, Dureza said five days was deducted from Teehankee’s sentence for every month he spent in jail in his first two years of imprisonment.

“Ultimately [after] 14 years of being imprisoned, he was therefore entitled to a commutation of sentence,” Dureza said.

Dureza said all convicts who have displayed good behavior in prison were entitled to executive clemency.

Asked if the President was set to pardon another high-profile murder convict, Rolito Go, Dureza said: “Haka-haka lang po iyon [That’s speculation].”

Go was found guilty of murder three years after he shot and killed Eldon Maguan in 1991 following a traffic altercation. He is serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-10-07T13:33:38+00:00UTC10bUTCTue, 07 Oct 2008 13:33:38 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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