De Lima vows to take 1st step for ‘Abadilla 5’ - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:55:00 04/13/2011
Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice
MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has "promised" to endorse an appeal for clemency from the five men convicted of the murder of Marcos intelligence officer Rolando Abadilla, opening the door to a pardon from President Benigno Aquino III, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes said Tuesday.
Reyes, spiritual adviser to the five men, said he met with De Lima to follow up on the appeals of Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus, Leonido Lumanog, Joel de Jesus and Augusto Santos, collectively known as the "Abadilla 5."
He said De Lima “promised” to make the recommendation within the week for the Board of Pardons and Parole “to start working on the appeal for clemency.”
“It's the first process toward being granted clemency,” Reyes said, adding that the grounds would probably be humanitarian reasons.
“Leny Lumanog is ailing while the other families continue to be devastated by what happened. I am witness to the families' sufferings,” he said.
The five continued to maintain their innocence and claimed that they were tortured into admitting to the ambush of Abadilla on June 13, 1996, in Quezon City.
Their families said the Abadilla 5 were no longer interested in clearing their names but in seeking clemency from Mr. Aquino so they could rejoin their families.
The five men have been incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City for more than a decade, serving out the life terms meted out to them by the court that convicted them of Abadilla’s killing. The Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction.
“We are hoping, making an effort that they be granted clemency before the 15th anniversary of the killing,” Reyes said.