Pope Francis left the country on January 19, yet President Benigno Aquino 3rd still has to approve a list of aging and ailing inmates who would be granted executive clemency.
The benevolent gesture was supposed to be part of the President’s offering to the Holy Father on his five-day visit to the country but Malacañang is yet to release a final version of the list based on recommendations from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.on Monday said the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs is still reviewing the Justice department’s recommendations.
The DOJ submitted the list to Malacañang weeks before the arrival of the Pope on January 15.
Coloma explained that the Palace wants to vet it carefully without rush or pressure.
“Of course it should still be based on merits. It cannot be perfunctory just because there’s an occasion,” he said.
“They’re doing complete staff work or due diligence to ensure the decision of the President will be equitable, fair and just,” Coloma added.
According to the Palace official, the President does not want to decide hastily on important matters, noting that the primary consideration should not be the occasion since it may lessen objectivity.
He said the government wants to avoid “an omission or error in judgment.”
“I hope our people will understand that we were short on time,” Coloma added.
Under Section 19, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President, except in cases of impeachment, may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons and remit fines and forfeitures after conviction by final judgment.
Malacañang usually grants executive clemency to prisoners during the Christmas season.