ACTOR Robin Padilla expressed immense gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for granting him absolute and unconditional pardon Tuesday night at Malacañan Palace, giving him complete freedom and restoring his full civil and political rights.
Padilla was sentenced to a 21-year prison term in 1994 for illegal possession of firearms. He was incarcerated in 1995 but was released three years after on a conditional pardon from President Fidel Ramos.
“I am really in a daze. This is my second life—a big relief for me and my family,” said Philippine showbiz’ erstwhile “Bad Boy.” “Even to get an NBI clearance was so difficult for me [after my conditional pardon]. If others get theirs in a matter of days, mine takes weeks. It was much harder to apply for visas to other countries as you all know—but now all that’s gone.”
Padilla’s manager, Betchay Vidanes, called a news conference on Wednesday at a Quezon City restaurant, where the action star took the opportunity to clarify that he never knew there was a request for an absolute pardon before the President. He denied asking Duterte, whom he staunchly supported in the May elections, for such a favor.
Padilla’s difficulties in securing visas became public knowledge lately. His wife Mariel, an American citizen, wanted to give birth in the United States following a number of miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy.
“I always get into trouble when I plan to go abroad, even just to do a show,” Padilla explained. “Even my work gets affected so my manager and lawyer Philip Jurado were the ones who found a way for me [to get this absolute pardon]. It wasn’t really my decision but theirs.”
“If I really wanted to do this, I should have done it way back [during]FVR, Erap, GMA or PNoy’s term as president. I was also close to all of them but I never did it nor dreamed of an absolute pardon, because I had already accepted my situation. But now that it’s here, I praise God for this blessing,” he said.
Favor for sister
He narrated that before his Tuesday meeting with the President, he went to Davao to ask for an appointment for his sister Rema whose business is health-related. Aware that the Duterte administration was keen to improve the condition of public hospitals, Padilla said his only intention was to introduce his sister and present her programs.
“When I got there, one of his appointees whispered to me that the President had something to tell me. I even thought it would be government position, so I got very nervous,” Padilla continued. “So when the President handed me some papers, I thought it was going to be an appointment. But when he told me to read them, the first word I saw was ‘Pardon,’ so I said to myself, ‘This is it. This is different.’ Honestly speaking, I was very speechless. I didn’t know what to do because I really couldn’t believe it. I had to check myself if I was dreaming.”
Clearly emotional, he admitted he almost cried in front of the President but he controlled himself, careful not to make a scene or make Duterte feel uncomfortable. Since it took a lot of effort to hold back his tears, he forgot to introduce his sister and pitch her programs.
“Mayor [Duterte] still wanted to talk more, but so many things started running in mind. Honestly, I wanted to rush to the US Embassy just to give them the papers as they might help me finally go see my wife and our new baby in the States.”
Asked how soon he told his wife the good news, Padilla laughed and said Mariel texted him first.
“She texted me ‘Happy Birthday’ because it really does feel like my second birth,” Padilla said. “As you know, there are so many protocols inside Malacañang, so by the time I got out, news about my pardon already went around the Internet.”
Asked when he intends to join Mariel, who gave birth to their daughter Maria Isabella on Monday, Padilla said it would depend on the US Embassy’s decision.
Even though he missed his daughter’s birth, the 46-year-old actor said Tuesday was a double celebration.
“It all happened in one day—Mariel’s giving birth and the absolute pardon,” he averred. “Mariel always said our daughter will bring us luck—we never planned to have her unlike the other two miscarriages, so really, with all this, she is very, very special.”
“I actually forgot to ask the President to be her godfather… I was really out of my mind at that time,” Padilla said.