UNDERSTANDING EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
(Note: Executive Clemency is the power of the President in criminal cases and in state convictions to pardon a person convicted of a crime, commute the sentence (shorten it, often to time already served) or reduce it from death to another lesser sentence. There are many reasons for exercising this power including real doubts about the guilt of the party, apparent excessive sentence, humanitarian concerns such as illness or an aged inmate, to clear the record of some who has demonstrated rehabilitation or public service or because the party is a political or personal friend of the President. (This definition is lifted from Federal law interpretation which Philippine laws reckon.)
Prisoners need not lose hope. The rule on the issuance of executive clemency has been amended to define in clear terms how a person serving time will eventually be released.
Under the new amended rules made by the Board of Pardons and Parole, inmates who suffer from serious, contagious, or life threatening illness or disease and those prisoners with severe disability can now be recommended for executive clemency.
Based on the amended guidelines under the extraordinary circumstances, an inmate suffering from serious, contagious or life threatening disease ,or with severe physical disability such as those who are totally blind, paralyzed or bedridden can be subject for recommendation for executive clemency.
However, the condition of the inmate should be certified “under oath” by a physician of the Bureau of Corrections Hospital and likewise certified under oath by a physician designated by the Department of Health (DOH).
Under the same guidelines on extraordinary circumstances, the Board shall also recommend to the President the grant of executive clemency when any of the following extraordinary circumstances are present:
• The trial court or appellate court in its decision recommended the grant of executive clemency for the inmate;
• Evidence which the court failed to consider, before conviction, which would have just justified an acquittal of the accused;
• Alien inmates where diplomatic considerations and amity among nations necessitates review; and
• Such other similar or analogous circumstances whenever the interest of justice will be served thereby.
In such case none of the extraordinary circumstances enumerated the Board may review or recommend to the President the grant of executive clemency to an inmate provided the inmate meets the following minimum requirements of imprisonment.
For commutation of sentence the inmate should have served:
• At least one – third of the definite or aggregate prison terms;
• At least one-half of the minimum of the indeterminate prison term or aggregate minimum of the indeterminate prison terms;
• At least 10 years for inmates sentenced to one reclusion perpetua or one life imprisonment, for crimes/offenses not punished under Republic Act No. 7659 and other special laws;
• At least 13 years for inmates whose indeterminate and /or definite prison terms were adjusted to a definite prison term of 40 years in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code as amended;
• At least 15 years for inmates convicted of heinous crimes as defined in RA 7659or other special laws, committed on or after January 1, 1994 and sentenced to one reclusion pepetua or one life imprisonment;
• At least 18 years for inmates convicted and sentenced to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment for violation of RA 6425, as amended, otherwise known as “The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972” or RA 9165 known as “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Acts of 2002”; and for kidnapping for ransom or violation of the laws on terrorism, plunder and transnational crimes;
• At least 20 years for inmates sentenced to two or more reclusion perpetua even if their sentences were adjusted to a definite prison term of forty years in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended;
• At least 25 years for inmates originally sentenced to death penalty but which was automatically reduced or commuted to reclusion perpetua.( As amended by Board Resolution No. 24-4-10 dated April 13, 2010.)
For Conditional Pardon, an inmate should have served at least one-half of the maximum of the original indeterminate and /or definite prison term. (As amended by Board Resolution No. 24-4-10 dated April 13, 2010.)
Stated in the same guidelines that “Compliance with the above – mentioned periods of imprisonment shall be without prejudice to the results of publication, community interview, pre-executive clemency investigation report, institutional conduct, NBI records check, psychological test, notices, comments from the victim or victim’s relatives, court certifications of the non-existence of any record of pending appeal or case, and other pertinent documents and factors.”