[In the news] De Lima: Heads will roll in Leviste incident | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features
De Lima: Heads will roll in Leviste incident | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.
Former governor made to believe he can go out, claims lawyer
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will axe all officials supposedly in connivance with former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, who was caught on Wednesday far away from the New Bilibid Prisons without proper authorization.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said a team of state prosecutors has been created to investigate those involved, including Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ernesto Diokno.
While BuCor has been tasked to immediately relieve the person directly monitoring Leviste’s case, Diokno is not off the hook yet, she said.
De Lima said the bureau chief will be asked to explain but “giving a fair warning will not be enough.”
Based on an order issued by de Lima, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Leviste outside LPL building in Makati on Wednesday afternoon.
Leviste owns the building, and is also where he admitted to killing his aide, Rafael de las Alas, on January 12, 2007.
He was subsequently convicted by the Makati Regional Trial Court of homicide, which the Court of Appeals upheld in a ruling last year.
De Lima said she never once gave Leviste a pass to go out of the Bilibid’s premises. Any instance he went out is, therefore, illegal, she added.
‘Evasion of sentence’
In an interview also on UKG, BuCor administrative division chief Teodora Diaz said Leviste is considered a “living out under minimum security status,” which means a prisoner is free to go out unescorted, but only within the premises of the reservation.
Such prisoner is only allowed to leave temporarily if “one, a family member dies; two, he or she is being subpoenaed; three, he or she needs hospitalization.” All 3 needs proper authorization from the DoJ, she stressed.
Leviste’s numerous trips outside the Bilibid would thus make him liable for “evasion of sentence,” she said. If a prisoner is found guilty of evading his sentence, he or she is liable for another 6 to 12 years in prison. He or she will also be stricken out of the list for the commutation of service.
‘Mistake of facts’
Henry Capela, Leviste’s counsel, said his client is not liable for evasion of service. For the latter to apply, “the felony should be committed by deceit, there has to be malice,” he explained.
The governor never had any intention to escape, as proven by the fact that he always returns after every trip to the doctor, Capela said. He himself accompanied Leviste at least four times to the doctor or dentist in the past.
Capela added if there was anyone at fault, it should be “the system that made him believe it is okay to leave prison.” He said the issue is about “error of judgment or a mistake of facts” on the part of the governor.
No less than the courts gave the jail warden and other officials the discretion to allow Leviste to leave “during emergency cases.”
He said Leviste is already 71 years old and needs constant medical attention, having had several strokes in the past. “There was a time he fell from his bunk bed because he had a stroke.”
He said the governor needs those trips. “He is not a hardened criminal. He was just involved in an incident.”
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