I had been a GMA admirer, partly because I respect her late father-president, Diosdado Macapagal. Despite her being involved in the 2004 election cheating (“Hello Garci”), I still gave her the benefit of the doubt and had consoled myself with the idea of a “movie” star as President is “gross” compared to an economist at the helm of a fractious and poor country. Election in our country is a big joke anyway.
But pardons and clemency left and right, led me to a rude awakening that GMA’s Presidency does not have what it takes to lead a divided, poor and miserable country. Her leadership has not only bankrupted the economy, mortgaged the future of generations to come, just like the way previous politicians did, but also deprived us of our remaining resource, our dignity as a people.
In 2007, GMA pardoned one of killers of Senator Aquino, Pablo Martinez, without imposing a simple condition that the parolee narrate to the entire nation the story from the perspective of one who has a direct hand in the murder of Senator Aquino of what happened in that infamous day of August 21, 1983. In the same year, GMA pardoned President Joseph Estrada for committing plunder while the ink in the Sandiganbayan decision has yet to settle dry in the pages of that verdict. Now GMA has freed convicted felon Claudio Teehankee, Jr. for the murder of Maureen Hultman and Chapman and the attempt on the life of Leino in 1991.
It is not mercy. It is political maneuver of which GMA has become so astute lately. It is also mockery of our judicial system, which is never known now nor in the past for integrity and principles. But in the cases of Teehanke, Estrada and Martinez, the judiciary has done a splendid job and has given meaning, albeit ephemerally, to the concept of “righteousness and justice”.
Mr. Martinez was pardoned at a time when Mrs. Cory Aquino was asking for the resignation of GMA for uncontrolled graft and corruption in GMA’s administration. The pardon was seen by many as a retaliatory move against Mrs. Aquino by GMA. Mr. Estrada was pardoned because GMA had tried to court the affection of the misguided urban poor, that are pro-Estrada of which there are plenty in Metro Manila. The parole of Mr. Teehankee was a simple case of those in the corridors of power, (his brother being one of GMA’s diplomats) can make miracles denied of ordinary prisoners convicted of lesser crimes.
GMA blew everything the country could have stand for: “the law is hard but it is the law, and justice is blind and it is administered without bias or favor”.
In the case of Teehanke, just see how painful it is to see a “disturbed” individual getting back his freedom while his victims are several feet under the ground. Here is Wikipedia’s grim reminder of what happened in that tragic 1991 incident involving Teehanke, Hultman, Chapman and Leino:
“The Hultman-Chapman murder case was a murder case that gained wide publicity in the Philippines during the early 1990’s. This is due to the fact that Claudio Teehankee, Jr., the perpetrator of the crime, was the son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, Sr. and the brother of former Justice Undersecretary Manuel Teehankee. The case helped sway the public view on crime and restore the death penalty in the Philippines.
Court records show that Chapman, Hultman, and another friend, Jussi Leino, were coming home from a party at around three o’clock in the morning of July 13, 1991. Leino was walking Hultman home along Mahogany street in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City when Teehankee came up behind them in his car. He stopped the two and demanded that they show some identification. Leino took out his wallet and showed Teehankee his Asian Development Bank ID. Teehankee grabbed the wallet. Chapman, who was waiting in a car for Leino, stepped in and asked Teehankee: “Why are you bothering us?” Teehankee drew out his gun and shot Chapman in the chest, killing him instantly. After a few minutes, Teehankee shot Leino, hitting him in the jaw. Then he shot Hultman on the temple before driving away. Leino survived and Hultman died two months later in hospital due to brain hemorrhages caused by the bullet fragments. Teehankee was arrested several days later on the testimony of several witnesses. The witnesses were Domingo Florence and Agripino Cadenas, private security guards, and Vincent Mangubat, a driver, all three being employs of residents of the village.”