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Hultman lawyer asks SC to annul Teehankee clemency

October 15, 2008 12:38pm
MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Ernesto Francisco on Wednesday filed before the Supreme Court a petition seeking to nullify the Board of Pardons and Parole’s recommendation for sentence commutation and the subsequent grant of executive clemency to released convict Claudio Teehankee Jr.

Francisco, one of the private prosecutors who represented families of Teehankee’s victims — Maureen Hultman, Roland John Chapman, and Jussi Olavi Leino -- said the authorities responsible for Teehankee’s release committed "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."

He was referring to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, and the Board of Pardons and Parole – the respondents of the petition he filed.

He said he could not “stomach" that Arroyo, Ermita, Gonzales, and BPP officials themselves “violated the Constitution" in facilitating Teehankee’s release.

Francisco likewise said there was merit to file the petition as he had been “working on the case for a long time." GMA News learned that Francisco had maintained close contact with the Hultman family and minimal contact with the Chapmans and Leinos.

“Ako ay isa sa private prosecutors na humawak ng kasong ito. Yung pamilya ng Chapman, Hultman, Leino ay sila ay nag-retain ng team of lawyers … private prosecutors. Lima kaming abogado…and I was working on this case for a long time so pamilyar sa akin itong kasong ito," Francisco said.

(I was one of the private prosecutors who handled the case. The Chapman, Hultman, and Leino families retained their team of lawyers, private prosecutors. Five of us handled the case and I was working on this case for a long time so I’m familiar with it.)

He added that the Supreme Court still has a checking-and-balancing power over the executive clemency granted to Teehankee.

“Sinasabi ng Saligang Batas natin at ng mga desisyon ng Korte Suprema na hindi nangangahulugan na ang isang Constitutional power na binigay sa Presidente, hindi nangangahulugan na ito’y hindi na maaaring suriin ng Korte Suprema kung merong grave abuse of discretion na sa tingin ko ay malinaw dito na inabuso nila ang kanilang kapangyarihan."

(Our Constitution and our Supreme Court say that the Constitutional powers vested on the President can also be examined by the Supreme Court if a grave abuse of discretion was committed.)

Justice Secretary Gonzales earlier said that the clemency has already “taken effect and it can’t be taken back unless there was fraud ... mathematical error and misapplication of rules."

Teehankee, the son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Sr, was convicted in 1995 for killing Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman, and gravely wounding their friend Jussi Leino in 1991.

He was sentenced with one count of reclusion perpetua (or life imprisonment) for killing Hultman, and two counts of reclusion temporal for the cases of Leino and Chapman.

Teehankee had been locked in jail since July 24, 1991, nearly two weeks after the crime took place on July 13, 1991 in Dasmariňas Village in Makati City.

Acting on a recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Parole, President Arroyo granted executive clemency to Teehankee effective October 2.

Teehankee left his quarters at the NBP on the night of October 8.

Petition for Certoriari

In his 62-page petition, Francisco said that the Department of Justice and the BPP violated their own rules by failing to comply with their own Amended Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency when they recommended executive clemency to Teehankee.

Francisco said that Teehankee did not qualify for commutation of sentence because "there is absolutely nothing to show that the grant of executive clemency to him was with the objective of ‘preventing a miscarriage of justice or correcting a manifest injustice.’"

Francisco said that Teehankee did not deserve clemency because he failed to settle the civil aspect of his sentence with respect to Chapman in the amount of P2,050,000 and to Leino in the amount of P4,148,369.84 and US$55,600.

"Teehanke’s refusal to settle his monetary obligations to the family of Roland John Chapman and Jussi Olavi Leino is clearly indicative of lack of remorse and intention to make restitution on his part," the petition read.

The lawyer added that President Arroyo granted Teehankee executive clemency "against the interest of public safety" and "the public’s right to know."

"The public’s right to know …is made more imperative if one is to consider the circumstances under which Teehankee perpetrated the killing of Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman and the shooting of Jussi Olavi Leino. It was plain senseless killing and shooting," the petition read.

“For the foregoing reasons, in the interest of public safety and for the orderly administration of the criminal justice system, the petitioner is also urging the Supreme Court to issue a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction ordering public respondents, particularly the Bureau of Corrections, to immediately retake custody of Teehankee and recommit him to prison pending adjudication of the instant petition," the petition further stated.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said he respects Francisco’s right to file a petition, even as he said that as far he knows, Teehankee had already paid all his civil settlements to Chapman and Leino. – with Carlo Lorenzo, GMANews.TV
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