MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is currently reviewing a recommendation to free the 5 convicted killers of Army Lt. Col. Rolando Abadilla, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.
Speaking to ANC, de Lima said there is a pending recommendation to grant executive clemency to Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus, Cesar Fortuna, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos after they were jailed for nearly 17 years.
"I was hoping that the President would be able to act on that recommendation in time for the Christmas season but apparently hindi pa nagkaroon ng oras. But the President is personally reviewing the matter," she told ANC's Headstart.
"I guess he is seriously considering that but it remains to be his prerogative whether or not to grant executive clemency," she added.
The Abadilla 5 have been incarcerated since 1996 for the assassination of Abadilla, a military intelligence officer during the Marcos dictatorship.
On February 2011, the Supreme Court voted 9-4 to junk with finality the Abadilla 5's motion for reconsideration on the ruling of the high court affirming their guilt.
The justice chief said there was reasonable doubt that the 5 were guilty of the crime.
She said she reviewed the Abadilla 5 case when she was still head of the Commission on Human Rights and found out the case hinged on the testimony of a single eyewitness. She said the eyewitness' testimony kept changing during the course of the trial.
ANC Headstart, January 9, 2013