PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — “KONTING tiis na lang.”
Thus were the assuring words of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as he pushed for the release of the 10 remaining convicted soldiers in the Aquino-Galman double murder case.
Sources disclosed that Enrile discussed the matter of granting executive clemency to the 10 convicted soldiers with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita during the 23rd anniversary of the EDSA 1 people power peaceful revolution.
Enrile noted that the convicted Aquino-Galman soldiers are only small fries and they are only sacrificial lambs
“Maliliit na tao lamang sila na puwedeng gamitin ng mga taong may masamang kalooban,” Enrile said.
Enrile advised the convicted soldiers to keep the faith, and the hope, and to be patient with the processing of their papers at Malacañang in the wake of the latter’s persistent appeal for their clemency.
“Konting tiis na lang,” Enrile told the convicted soldiers in talks with one of them over the phone.
Ermita said that the processing of the papers are already in place and awaiting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appropriate action.
The other day, Chief Public Attorney Persida V. Rueda Acosta visited the 10 convicted soldiers at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City in connection with the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) jail decongestion and free legal medical dental and optical mission.
Bureau of Corrections (Buccor) director Oscar Calderon welcomed Acosta at the national penitentiary, and immediately met with her along with the 10 convicted soldiers.
These include Claro Lat, Ernesto Mateo, Felomino Miranda, Arnulfo Artates, Jesus Castro, Arnulfo de Mesa, Rodolfo Desolong, Romeo Bautista, Ruben Aquino and Rogelio Moreno.
The PAO chief noted that the 10 have been consistent for more than 25 years of incarceration about their innocence, stressing that only Pablo Martinez whom the President previously granted clemency has admitted involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate the former opposition leader.
Acosta stressed that clemency is a sacred, noble and exclusive power of the President, and hence could not be blocked by any opposition.
For his part, Calderon said that the 10 are “more than eligible to be released” after completing their sentence of more than 26 years, plus good conduct time allowance (GCTA) and penal colony status for total of 34 years.
Among those who have endorsed the release of the 10 include Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of the Philippine Ecumenical Churches of the Philipines (PCEC), Bro. Mike Velarde of the influential El Shaddai congregation, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Iglesia ni Kristo, Reps. Ed Joson of Nueva Ecija and Bienvenido Abante Jr. of Manila, among others.
Gonzalez have noted in his recommendation to the President that the 10 have been sickly and suffering from “life threatening diseases.”