Thursday, October 9, 2008

Release Of Hultman's Killer Stirs RP Justice System

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has done it again! Arroyo granted executive clemency to Claudio Teehankee, Jr, barely seven years after he was convicted by the Supreme Court. Teehankee was sentenced to one count each of reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal for the 1991 murder of then 16-year old Maureen Hultman and Roland Chapman as well as for wounding Jussi Leino.

To add salt to the injury, a government official was interviewed by reporters saying the Hultmans' were informed of the plan to pardon Teehankee and the family agreed after an estimated P6 million was paid to the family. I was shocked when I heard that knowing that the

Maureen Hultman's photo
taken from

Philippine law does not accept blood money in exchange for the release of a convicted prisoner. If my memories of my criminal law subject still holds true, criminal cases are not dismissed even if the complainants desist from the case since it is the government who will prosecute the case although of course there's the non-appearance of the witnesses to contend with. What more in this case when Teehankee was convicted?

Vivian Hultman, the victim's mother, denied they were given any notice by the government about the planned clemency that will be given to Teehankee. She said the money awarded to them was by virtue of the court's decision and order and not payment for the release of Teehankee. So there, another Arroyo man caught with his pants down or rather with his foot in his mouth!

The executive clemency has placed the justice system into question once again even if such was an executive decision and there is supposedly a separation of the three branches of government--the executive, judiciary and the legislative. There are lots of prisoners who have been suffering in jail and even after several years they still claim innocence. A lot of media people have been placed behind bars not for killing people but for merely reporting the truth.

Despite Press secretary Jesus Dureza's claims that 292 prisoners were granted pardon by the president this year, the fact that Teehankee is the son of a former Supreme Court justice and the brother of a Philippine Diplomat to the WTO in Geneva still makes people suspicious if justice in the Philippines can really be bought and manipulated either by money or by name.

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