Press Release
April 3, 2009

'Terrible,' Loren says of GMA clemency to Beebom-Cochise killer

Senator Loren Legarda said today that President Arroyo did a "terrible, terrible thing" in granting executive clemency to the mastermind in the gruesome killing in 1990 of UP graduates Ernesto "Cochise" Bernabe II and Ana Lourdes "Beebom" Castaños.

"What kind of Pandora's box is this that President Arroyo is unleashing on our people in the 11th hour of her administration? Her letting loose convicted rapists, killers and those with horrific debts to civilized society is unpardonable," said Loren.

The senator said the abduction-murder of Cochise and his girlfriend Beebom by Manalili and his cohorts were "ghastly and beyond comprehension in their barbarity and cruelty."

"President Arroyo must be more circumspect in her use of the power to grant pardon or executive clemency because her pardon-granting binge is already undermining the faith of our people in our justice system," Loren stressed.

She said that while the Philippine penal system is based on reforming convicts, the perception is that the grant of executive clemency to well-known personalities and the rich and powerful, including Manalili, are either politically motivated or the result of lobbying by people close to the powers that be.

Loren said that with the release of influential people, people may think that the Philippines has two sets of justice - one for the rich and the poor.

"Sure, some other poor convicts had been granted pardon along with some influential people. But they are being seen more as an escape hatch for the government precisely to fend off accusations of double standard of justice."

Loren wondered why the mastermind in the killing of Cochise and Beebom was deemed worthy of a commuted sentence, while his four henchmen were denied the same.

"This gives credence to the belief that somebody lobbied for Mr. Manalili, thus the favorable treatment he got compared to the people who did his bidding in snuffing the lives of two very young people."

In mythology, Pandora is a woman who, despite admonitions not to open the box that contained all the evils in the world, did just that to unleash the scourge on mankind.

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