STILL smarting from the “shock” and “dismay” over the parole granted to murder convict and former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday ordered a review of existing procedures at the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP).
The President also ordered lawyers to find out if there are grounds to sanction BPP officials.
Speaking at the 80th anniversary celebration of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Aquino said he issued a directive to determine the appointment system at the board to review the parole process.
The President said he was shocked on learning about Leviste’s parole. He added that he was not informed about the board’s decision and that he only got wind of it from Assistant Secretary Rey Marfil of the Palace Press Office.
“I sought confirmation of the news. I recall the last time we heard of [Leviste] was when he was apprehended outside [New Bilibid Prisons]. When they said something about release I thought they would say there was good conduct allowance etcetera. How can it be good conduct when one is outside of prison when he is serving a sentence? So, that’s what I really don’t understand. How can it even be considered?” Aquino said.
The President said he wants a deeper look into the circumstances behind the parole, which the Department of Justice has said was above board and was not contested by the family of Leviste’s victim, Rafael De Las Alas.
“Nevertheless, even if we say that the letter of the law was followed, there is still what we call the spirit of the law and that is what I really wanted to be reviewed. How can that be? I can’t understand how someone who demonstrated disrespect for the law even while imprisoned should be set free,” Aquino pointed out.
“I also ordered a review if the parole can be recalled. As I understand it, only the objection of the family concerned [is allowed]under the present rules. We cannot make new rules that will be retroactive. I find it hard to comment [on the matter]because I am still studying closely all the angles for review in this incident,” he said.
On Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino will order an investigation on the details surrounding Leviste’s parole.
“’I am not happy with the decision and I’m having the whole matter investigated,” Coloma quoted the President as saying.
Leviste, who was convicted of killing Delas Alas, was released from detention on Friday for good behavior.