Clemency not meant to spite Aquinos
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:42:00 03/04/2009
MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted executive clemency to 10 convicts in the 1983 assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino for humanitarian reasons and not to spite his family, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Wednesday.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President heeded the “representations” of several groups, including the religious, to release the convicts because they have “suffered enough” in jail and are stricken with heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.
The assassination of Aquino sparked a protest movement that would culminate in the February 1986 popular uprising that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and replaced him with the late senator’s widow, former president Corazon Aquino.
The Aquino family had criticized the earlier release of two other convicts in February, saying the government was getting back at them for being critical of Arroyo.
But Ermita said the executive clemency was granted in the form of a commutation of sentence that qualified the 10 for release. They were credited to have served 31 years and eight months of their life sentence, which is equivalent to 40 years.
“That is her [Arroyo’s] sole prerogative. Wala naman consideration na out of spite for anything or anyone [It was not out of spite for anything or anyone],” Ermita said at his weekly news conference at the Palace on Wednesday.
“The humanitarian aspect on the grant of e clemency is based hypertension, diabetes, abnormalities in cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases, renal diseases and anemia,” he said.
Ermita said the grant of clemency was in line with Arroyo’s effort to “heal the wounds” of the two People Power uprisings — the one that installed Aquino and the other, in 2001, that saw Arroyo herself ascend to power.
Arroyo signed the clemency grant last week and this was forwarded to the Department of Justice Monday.
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