PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has asserted his authority to pardon criminals, calling it an “absolute power” granted him by the Constitution.
Without mentioning names, Duterte said in a speech in Cebu’s Naga City that he had pardoned or commuted the sentences of some convicts because they deserved it.
Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in the Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment, according to Article VII, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution.
“The power to commute and to pardon is absolute. My discretion lang. Bakit may mga taong pinalaya, binigyan ng pardon? Akin na ‘yan. You do not question because the Constitution says it is an absolute power,” Duterte said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
“(It’s) my power so I will not answer questions why.”
Duterte did not say what prompted him to make such remarks which came amid the controversy involving the early release of close to 2,000 heinous crime convicts on account of good behavior.
Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance law became controversial after it was revealed that among its supposed beneficiaries was convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.
The outcry caused by reports of Sanchez’s possible release prompted the government to suspend the implementation of the law pending review.
Duterte also fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon for allegedly disobeying his instruction to halt the release of heinous crime convicts.
However, Duterte said Faeldon still enjoys his trust.
“I still believe in (Faeldon). It was (he) who informed me about some smuggled cigarettes. Because of that report, (the nation) earned P37 billion,” Duterte said in a speech on Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of permanent houses for those affected by the landslide on Sept. 20, 2018.
Duterte said he sacked Faeldon on Wednesday for disobeying his orders to stop the release of thousands of convicts, including those who had committed heinous crimes, under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.