MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said she was inclined to recommend a conditional pardon for the convicted killers of Colonel Rolando Abadilla, saying they are believed to be “fall guys”.
“The human rights community believe that they are fall guys,” De Lima said. “I might recommend a conditional pardon.”
Senior Police Officer 2 Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus, Lenido Lumanog, Joel De Jesus, and Augusto Santos have a pending complaint before the Ombudsman against some policemen they accused of torturing them to admit into the killing.
De Lima said the claim of torture could also help them in their motion for reconsideration filed with the Supreme Court asking it to reverse its guilty ruling last September.
Abadilla, former chief of the Metropolitan Command Intelligence and Security Group of the defunct Philippine Constabulary, was killed in broad daylight while driving along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City on June 13, 1996.
The high court in its decision agreed with the Court of Appeals that the account of principal witness Freddie Alejo, a security guard on duty near the area where Abadilla was shot to death, was credible. Alejo vividly recounted before the trial court the positions and participation of the five in the murder of Abadilla.
De Lima noted that even the high tribunal was divided in its decision, with some justices dissenting from the majority ruling.
“Like the Vizconde case [where four justices dissented from the acquittal], there is no real closure here,” De Lima said.
The Court of Appeals 16th Division affirmed the decision of the Quezon City regional trial court Branch103, convicting the five for the murder of Abadilla.
They were sentenced to death by the lower court but with the abolition of the death penalty the Court of Appeals modified the penalty to 20 years and one day to 40 years imprisonment or Reclusion perpetua without the benefit of parole.