TACLOBAN CITY- The lawyer of murdered Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. said that talking of a possible presidential pardon on those who killed her client is still a long shot at this time.
Lawyer Leilani Villarino said that knowing how slow the judicial system grinds in the country, the decision of the court handling the murder case of Espinosa may outlast the term of President Duterte.
“We’ll see what will be the verdict of the court and if Mr. Duterte is still the President. How can he pardon them if he is no longer the President at that time?” Villarino, reached on her mobile phone, said.
The President, who is waging a controversial and brutal war on illegal drugs, is to step down in 2022.
An impeachment complaint has been filed against him before the House of Representatives using his campaign against illegal drugs as among the grounds.
On Wednesday, Mr. Duterte vowed to grant a presidential pardon to police officers who were convicted in the performance of their duties.
His statement came in the wake of the arrest and detention of members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in the region for the murder of Espinosa, father of the region’s drug lord, Kerwin.
A warrant was issued against the group by Judge Carlos Arguelles of Regional Trial Court-Branch 14 in Baybay City.
Accused of murder were former CIDG-8 director Supt. Marvin Marcos and 18 others. All professed innocence saying they were just performing their sworn duties.
Marcos and his coaccused are currently detained at the CIDG-8 regional office in this city. Media are barred from entering the said office.
Villarino, however, said that they could not question if ever Marcos and his coaccused would be given presidential pardon.
“The process of pardon is granted to our President under our Constitution. But there should be a parameter before he could issue such. For one, there should be a conviction,” she said.
“How could they be pardon by the President if there is no conviction from the court of competent jurisdiction?” Villarino said.
Villarino said that when Mr. Duterte issued the controversial statement, he could be talking as a lawyer.
“Utak abogado ang pinairal niya. He was just rational. But in fairness to the President, wala siyang ginawa that could prejudice the case. Under niya DOJ (Department of Justice), but wala naman siyang ginawa,” she said.
However, the family of Espinosa is sad considering that they are demanding justice “just like any family whose loved one was murdered,” Villarino said. (JOEY A. GABIETA)