Noy orders probe on Leviste parole

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has ordered an investigation on the parole granted to convicted killer Antonio Leviste, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma said yesterday.

Coloma said Aquino expressed disappointment over the decision of the Department of Justice’s Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in granting the privilege to Leviste, a former governor of Batangas.

“I am not happy with the decision and I am having the whole matter investigated,” Coloma quoted Aquino as telling him. Coloma was also instructed to make the announcement over state-run dzRB where members of the Malacañang Press Corps are tuned in.

Prior to the release last week, Justice Secretary Leila 15de Lima had been saying that Leviste passed the requirements set by the BPP, even after the family of the victim – his long-time aide Rafael delas Alas – posed no objection. 

Leviste was convicted by a Makati court in January 2009 for homicide in relation to his January 2007 alleged accidental shooting of Delas Alas, who at the time was allegedly demanding a pay hike from the governor.

The former governor claimed the shooting was an act of self-defense.

Coloma said Aquino had ordered a thorough review of the BPP’s decision granting parole to Leviste.

“He (Aquino) wants the whole background of the case, and why they came up with the decision, because he is not happy with the release of governor Leviste,” he said.

Total turnaround

 Coloma earlier told a briefing in Malacañang last week that he sees no problem with the parole granted to Leviste, saying a review of the BPP under the Department of Justice found him qualified.

“It’s in accordance with our laws, and as per consultation with my legal resource, it does not need any presidential action. This is a parole process. And the parole board granted the request in accordance with law,” he told newsmen.

When asked how come Leviste was given a good conduct time pass when he was seen going in and out of the national penitentiary, Coloma said there are processes for such, and which is in fact open for review.

“We have rules and regulations that we are observing on that. And we can conduct a review of the process if and when it can be proven that he violated such laws,” Coloma said.

Leviste, along with 30 others, were released from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa after they were granted parole.

Superintendent Venancio Tesoro, NBP officer-in-charge, said the inmates were paroled on Nov. 19 and their final certificates of discharge were released last Thursday.

Aside from having served the minimum required sentence, Leviste’s age of 73 also weighed on the board’s decision to grant him parole, Tesoro said.

“Most likely, the board took that factor (old age) as a matter of course,” Tesoro said in an interview with ANC.

Leviste was sentenced to six to 12 years’ imprisonment for killing his former aide. He was committed to the NBP on Jan. 26, 2009.

Tesoro said Leviste’s good conduct and allowance merited him the completion of the minimum required sentence.

He clarified, however, that while Leviste has been released, it doesn’t mean that he will enjoy absolute freedom.

“He will have to report regularly to the parole officer in the area for the rest of the time that he has to serve up to the maximum sentence, which is 12 years,” Tesoro said.

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