REPORTS on the absolute, unconditional pardon extended by President Rodrigo Duterte to actor Robin Padilla glossed over the role played by former Sen. Ramon Revilla in Padilla’s early release from prison.
Padilla had been sentenced to 21 years in prison in 1994 based on a martial law decree that made mere possession of firearms punishable by up to life imprisonment. After Padilla’s conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court, Revilla filed a bill seeking to lower the penalty for mere possession.
Revilla, who retired from the movies after his election as senator, openly admitted to Senate reporters that his measure was meant to aid Padilla. The measure, which became Republic Act 8294, had retroactive effect as it favored those convicted under the martial law decree. The lower penalty made Padilla eligible for the grant of parole. I don’t know if Padilla ever acknowledged the help given by Revilla that enabled him to lead a productive life anew.
According to the report, Padilla had been granted a conditional pardon by then President Fidel Ramos and that the absolute pardon extended to him by President Duterte “restored his full political rights, including the right to vote and to run for office.” The legal advisers of Malacanang should have made a more thorough research on this.
The fact is, Padilla ran for public office in 1995, indicating that his sentence didn’t include the loss of his political rights. He ran for vice governor of Nueva Ecija under the ticket of then Cabanatuan City Mayor Honorato Perez who was ambushed and killed before the election. Reelectionist Gov. Tommy Joson, the principal suspect along with younger brother Cristino, won. The Josons were later cleared of involvement in the Perez killing..
The late Rep. Junior de Guzman of Nueva Ecija was also a beneficiary of RA 8294 authored by Revilla. Despite his claims of innocence until his death, De Guzman was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to smuggle 314 firearms, including street sweeper shotguns and .45 and 9mm handguns. There were rumors that the guns were intended for the Yellow Army of Hacienda Luisita. (A series of coup attempts against President Cory had just wracked the country when the smuggling of guns was stopped at the international airport.) Rep. Jose Cojuangco and President Cory did nothing to help Junior de Guzman in any way. De Guzman also became eligible for parole with the signing of RA 8294.
Junior de Guzman was later pardoned by President Estrada. Like Padilla, he also ran for an elective position–for board member in the fourth district of Nueva Ecija under the Joson ticket. When I saw him in Gapan during the campaign, he said he had wanted to retire from politics but could not say “no” to Governor Joson who stood by him when others were avoiding him. They both lost to the gubernatorial ticket of then Rep. Oyie Umali.
De Guzman led a colorful life and never tried to conceal this from the House reporters who had won his confidence. One anecdote he told me concerns the late Col. Francisco Villa Sr., former Pasay City chief of police. I remember this because Villa’s son and namesake has just been in the news, reportedly committing suicide rather than participate in corrupt activities at the Energy Regulatory Commission where he was a director.
Junior de Guzman, who used to operate a nightclub-casino along Roxas Blvd., said of the former Pasay City police chief: “Iyang Colonel Villa naiyan, pinahirapanako. Panay ang raid sa casinoko. Ayawtumanggap ng pera.” (That Colonel Villa gave me a hard time. He often raided my casino. He refused to accept bribes.)
I guess the late Colonel Villa deeply inculcated in his family his sense of public service and moral values. I hope President Duterte will be true to his word and crack the whip on the corrupt officials of the ERC. The younger Villa’s death, tragic as it is, may still not be in vain.
My mistake. My townmate from Lupao, Nueva Ecija, M/Gen. Raul del Rosario, was promoted to chief of the Cebu-based Central Command of the Philippine Air Force and not of the entirePhilippine Air Force. My apologies to PAF chief Lt/Gen. Edgar Fallorina. Del Rosario belongs to PMA Class 1984, Fallorina to Class 1983.
Del Rosario and C/Supt. Noel Baraceros, whom I mentioned in a previous column, are among the distinguished sons of Lupao, one of the smallest and poorest towns of Nueva Ecija. They join the scholarly Jara brothers–Manolo “Noli” and Virgilio–and ex-Gov. Juan Chioco in giving luster to our town’s history.
ManongNoli was the first and most successful journalist from Lupao. He went on to become editor of the Times Journal. Manong Virgilio is the only person from our town to land in the Top 10 of the bar exams. If I remember correctly, he was a San Beda classmate of ex-senator Rene Saguisag who placed higher than he did in the bar exams. Manong Virgilio served for some time as Dean of the San Beda College of Law. Chioco was born in San Isidro town but made Lupao his permanent residence after getting the biggest number of votes there.
Oh, I hope I don’t bore my readers by writing about my small town. Some still associate Lupao with a massacre, the New People’s Army and political killings of yesteryears although our town is now very peaceful and a happy place to live in, a town that produced notable sons like the brothers Noli and Virgilio Jara, M/Gen. Raul del Rosario and C/Supt. Noel Baraceros.