Palace: ‘Nothing to explain’ on clemency
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:32:00 03/05/2009
MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not owe the family of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. an explanation for decision to grant clemency to his convicted killers, Malacañang said Thursday.
Arroyo merely exercised her “ministerial” duty under the Constitution in granting clemency to qualified convicts, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said after Senator Benigno Aquino III and television host Kris Aquino, the former senator’s children, expressed dismay at the clemency given to the 10 remaining convicts in the 1983 assassination of their father.
Two others were pardoned and released in February.
The senator and the TV host said the grant of clemency has not helped bring the case to closure since none of the convicts has named the mastermind behind the killing of Aquino.
“The President just exercised her authority, and for that matter, you might call it ministerial authority, to grant executive clemency. So I don’t think there’s anything else to explain,” Ermita told reporters at the Palace.
Asked if Arroyo had any special considerations when granting clemency in high-profile cases such as the Aquino assassination, Ermita said: “[There are] no special considerations for anybody, for as long as they comply with the criteria.”
“They have served their sentence in accordance with the computation, including the good conduct accreditation that made them eligible for parole with the grant of executive clemency,” Ermita said.
“There should be no malice whatsoever in that exercise of the authority granted by the Constitution upon the President,” he said.
On August 21, 1983, Aquino, who had just returned from exile, was assassinated as he was being escorted by the convicts, then in the military, from a plane at the Manila International Airport. His alleged assassin, Rolando Galman, was also shot.
The killing sparked a protest movement that subsequently ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and thrust Aquino’s widow, Corazon, to the presidency.
Mrs. Aquino, who is battling cancer, has declined to comment on the release of her husband’s killers.
In 2005, the former president called on Arroyo to resign over allegations of massive electoral fraud in 2004.
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