MANILA – Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III said on Wednesday he is in favor of granting executive clemency to the aged and ailing prisoners at the National Penitentiary during Pope Francis’ visit in the country.
”I’m in favor of granting executive clemency. It should be done more generously and leniently by the President,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel, however, emphasized that clemency should be awarded only to the inmates who have health problems, reformed individuals, and prisoners with doubtful guilt.
”That’s the power of the President (to grant executive clemency),” Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on justice, said.
It was the Department of Justice (DOJ) which recommended to Malacanang the granting of executive clemency to the ailing inmates in time with the Pope’s four-day visit.
The Office of the President is reportedly studying the recommendation which drew supports from various groups, including rights group Karapatan which seeks inclusion of political prisoners.
”They are hoping that the Pope will raise it with the President because that’s really the power of the President,” Pimentel said.
He said he has yet to attend any of the activities lined up during the papal visit from Jan. 15 to 19.
During his stay, the Pope will attend welcome ceremony to be hosted by President Benigno S. Aquino III at Malacanang on Friday morning.
From Malacanang, Pope Francis will take a motorcade going to the Manila Cathedral for a holy Mass with bishops and priests and another motorcade in the afternoon going to the Mall of Asia for a meeting with families.
The Pope will also visit the areas ravaged by super typhoon “Yolanda” in Leyte on Saturday and will meet with various religious leaders and youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Sunday and will have concluding Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in the afternoon.
Pope Francis is scheduled to leave for the Vatican on Monday morning.