SC asked to void Teehankee pardon


BY EVANGELINE DE VERA

THE Supreme Court was asked yesterday to void President Arroyo’s grant of executive clemency to double-murder convict Claudio Teehankee Jr. early this month.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco asked the Supreme Court to compel authorities to immediately return Teehankee to the National Bilibid Prison as he said the grant of pardon runs counter to the Constitution and the guidelines of the Board of Pardons and Parole.

Francisco was one of the private prosecutors who represented the families of Teehankee’s victims during the trial.

Teehankee, son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Sr. and brother of former Justice Undersecretary Manuel Teehankee, was granted clemency in a letter dated October 2 sent to the National Bilibid Prison by Malacañang. He sneaked out of the NBP on October 8 amid opposition by a number of sectors to his release.

Teehankee was sentenced to two life terms in 1995 for the 1991 murder of Roland John Chapman and Swedish-Filipino Maureen Hultman during a traffic altercation.

He was also sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison for the frustrated murder of Jussi Leino, who served as principal witness against Teehankee.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said neither Francisco nor the courts could question President Arroyo’s exclusive power to grant clemency to prisoners.

“The SC cannot revoke it because it’s an absolute power of the President. In the same manner, in an analogy, Congress cannot deprive the SC of certain jurisdictions on the courts… He (Francisco) may have grounds as he sees it. He has the privilege of filing the case with reasons ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous,” he said.

Gonzalez said Teehankee’s petition for clemency had been pending for three years when it was acted upon. It was reviewed eight times by the Bureau of Corrections and by the Bureau of Parole and Pardon.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Malacañang is leaving the matter to Gonzalez and the Supreme Court.

Francisco, in an 84-page petition, said Teehankee’s sentence was imprisonment of a minimum of 36 years and maximum of 69 years and four months. Based on records, his aggregate sentence was previously adjusted to a definite prison term of 40 years in accordance with Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code.

He said respondents Gonzalez in his capacity as chairman of the BPP, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, and the Bureau of Corrections committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in allowing Teehankee’s release.

Francisco said the BPP recommended the grant of executive clemency and commutation of sentence of Teehankee despite the fact that he did not qualify for commutation of sentence.

He further said Gonzalez and the BPP failed to comply with their own amending guidelines for recommending executive clemency in favor of Teehankee. He said there was absolutely nothing to show that the grant of executive clemency to Teehankee was with the objective of “preventing a miscarriage of justice or correcting a manifest injustice.”

He said the respondents failed to give the required notices to the convicting trial judge, the private and/or public prosecuting lawyers and the offended parties.

According to Francisco, the respondents also failed to comply with the required publication in a newspaper of national circulation of the names of prisoners being considered for executive clemency in order to give the public the opportunity to file written objections.

He noted that the executive clemency was granted despite Teehankee’s failure to settle the civil aspect of his sentence with respect to Chapman in the amount of P2.05 million and Leino in the amount of P4.14 million and $55,600.(Malaya)

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