MANILA (UPDATE) – Pardons by a head of state are absolute and unquestionable, President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday.
"It's given in the Constitution the (President's) power to commute and to pardon is absolute. My discretion lang bakit yan mga tao pinalabas, binigyan ko ng pardon," Duterte said in Visayan during a groundbreaking ceremony in Naga City, Cebu.
(It's just my discretion why inmates were released, pardoned by me.)
"Sa akin na iyan, you do not question, because the Constitution says it is an absolute power. Walang kinalaman ang Congress, ako lang 'yan solo," he added.
(It's my order, you do not question it, because the Constitution says it's an absolute power. Congress does not have any part in it, it's just me, solo.)
This, as he admitted he ordered the transfer of 10 high-profile convicts from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City to a detention facility for Marines in Taguig City.
He reiterated the transfer was for security purposes because detained Sen. Leila de Lima, one of the President's staunchest critics, allegedly had people inside the said prison, where the convicts were previously staying.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said the inmates were moved over threats to their security.
Seven of the 10 inmates had testified against De Lima on her alleged links to the drug trade at the NBP during her time as justice chief, which she has denied, saying the charges were political persecution.
De Lima claimed the transfer was meant to pressure the convicts to stick to their “perjured testimonies,” calling the "security" reason "hilarious and baloney."
– with a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News