Freedom in the name of love, Mr. President
Freedom in the name of love, Mr. President
By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUÑA CAUSING
Editor-in-chief, Dyaryo Magdalo
I am sharing this incredible story of love, one that is everlasting that has survived physical separation by the prison walls.
A woman named Jocelyn Olaivar was 22 years old when she answered “yes” to the courtship of then Police Patrolman Neil T. Baluyot, who was 23 then.
She was a solicitor for passengers for taxis at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He was a policeman assigned as an investigator and intelligence officer at the airport.
They agreed that they would marry each other after they saved enough money for their wedding expenses and after she had converted to Iglesia Ni Cristo where her man belongs. She gave up her Catholic religion in the name of love.
Barely three years in their relationship had passed when tragedy fell on their pledge of love for each other.
There was a liquor-intoxicated man who drove a car to the airport and who became unruly when told by security guards not to park at the arrival area but at the parking are of the NAIA. In short, the policemen, including Neil, apprehended this man and placed him inside the custodial jail of the airport.
Thereafter, that man was found hanging dead on a nylon cord tied to an iron bar in that jail. The relatives of the victim insisted that the police officers strangled the man and made it appear it was one by suicide.
Unfortunately, the courts did not believe in the defences of Neil and his companions. They were convicted of murder.
Two of their strong defenses were the two doctors who examined and autopsied the body of the victim and who concluded it was one by suicide through hanging.
The biggest point in the findings of the doctors is that there were no other injuries found in the body of the victim, negating totally the claim of the lone prosecution witness detained in the adjacent cell, which witness claimed he saw the police officers mauling the victim.
Another big point is that the marks of the nylon cord were directed upwards on both side of the neck of the victim. If it is so, then the pull of the cord was directed upwards. So how then now can the claim of the alleged single witness be true that the victim was strangled by means of twisting the cord using a block of wood behind the victim?
As such, it is a mystery why the courts, including the Supreme Court, did not consider this fact as a piece of evidence for acquittal because it is a clear proof that the witness was lying.
The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court did not touch the judgment by the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City as to what should be the facts. This is based on the doctrine of evidence that says that the trial judge’s judgment if a witness is telling the truth cannot be touched because the trial judge was present when the witness testified, that the trial judge was at a vantage point to see how the witness testified, whether stammering, hesitating, taking time before giving answers or was crying or evading questions.
While their case was appealed, the witness bothered by conscience suddenly appeared at the NBP and confessed that he lied. To give effect to this confession, this witness even executed an affidavit recanting all what he said to the court and this recantation was executed in front of an NBP official.
This system of trial and judgment in the Philippines has caused thousands of innocent persons getting convicted. Obviously, the bias of the judge took over in Neil’s case. Until now, Neil has been crying everyday professing his innocence.
This case of injustice is a proof that the present system of trial and judgment must be changed with the trial jurors who are ordinary persons raffled and screened from the community. Centuries of experience in the United States of America, Canada, England, Italy and other European countries prove the efficiency of ordinary people as judges on factual issues.
Nevertheless, the rest is history now. The conviction to life sentence or reclusion perpetua became final and can no longer be reversed.
While the man of her life has been incarcerated at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa for a decade and a half, Jocelyn has remained faithful to him. She has remained pure for him despite the many suitors who tried to steal her heart.
A few days ago, Jocelyn went to the author of this article and sought help to seek pardon from President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Impressed by her story, this writer wrote the LETTER APPEALING FOR ABSOLUTE PARDON IF ONLY TO GIVE FULFILMENT TO THEIR PLEDGE OF LOVE.
The full copy of the letter is reproduced below:
February 13, 2012
BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III
In the name of everlasting love, I beg for clemency to pardon the man I have been loving all my life in order for us to get married and – perhaps—live happily ever after.
I am Jocelyn Olaivar, a resident of No. 7 Celadiom St., Rivera Village, NAIA, Pasay City.
I am appealing an absolute pardon be granted by your Excellency in favour of the man I will always love till the end of my life.
He is NEIL T. BALUYOT, with prison No. N200 P1019, who has already served 17 years, 9 months and 24 days at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
He was sentenced to Reclusion Perpetua along with four fellow police officers and one security guard in relation to the death of one Romeleo Quintos inside the custodial jail of the Intelligence and Investigation Division of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Quintos was found dead hanging on a nylon cord tied to an iron bar of the steel grill.
After having been indicted, Neil and his companions surrendered voluntarily, a mitigating circumstance recognized by the Regional Trial Court of Pasay, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court but which plus factor was not made to reduce the penalty of imprisonment simply because there is no law crediting it when the sentence is Reclusion Perpetua.
The other co-accused of Neil who were convicted along with are: Richard delos Trino, Hermonio Jose, Edwin Soriano, Marcelo Bustamante and Carlito Lingat (already deceased).
It is unfortunate that the Courts did not believe in professions of innocence by Neil and relied only on the testimony of one man despite the un-believability of the position of the same witness to see the alleged strangulation, despite the belated recantation by the said witness, and despite the testimonies of two doctors who received the victim at the emergency room of San Juan de Dios Medical Center and who conducted the autopsy that the victim died by hanging and that there was no other injury found in the body of the victim contrary to the witness’ claim that the victim was mauled before alleged strangulation.
In its opinions, the Supreme Court did not believe in the fact that the victim did not have any injury other than by hanging contrary to the witness claims that the victim was mauled first before being strangled. The Supreme Court did not give any premium to the recantation of the witness who voluntarily went to the NBP to execute a retraction before an administering officer of the NBP with the witness reasoning he had been bothered by conscience.
Nevertheless, everything is history now. The Supreme Court already put finality to their conviction effective July 19, 2005.
I fervently wish that Your Excellency give fulfilment to our pledge of love, that we get married in the church of Iglesia Ni Cristo as soon as he gets freedom.
I have been keeping my loyalty and purity reserving them all for the fulfilment of our love for each other.
Since I was 22 years old and he was 23 years old, we have been celebrating our love by visiting him regularly and building our dreams inside the prison walls.
Perhaps, the constant love we expressed for each other and the never-ending touch and caress of our hearts for each other must have kept him sane in an insane environment through all the years.
So I passionately ask for the freedom for my beloved in the name of love.
In support, I am attaching hereto the following:
1. ANNEX “A” and series -- Petition for Executive Clemency filed by Neil T. Baluyot with the assistance of Samahang Tanglaw Hustisya;
2. ANNEX “B” and series -- Petition for clemency filed by his neighbour, friends and relatives;
3. ANNEX “C” and series -- Certificate of Appreciation conferred to him by the Chief of Clinics/Chairperson, AMS, New Bilibid Prison, for valuable contributions to all programs and Herbal Medicine “Green Revolution” under the Alternative Medicine Section of the NBP Hospital;
4. ANNEX “D” and series -- Entry of Judgement issued by the Supreme Court;
5. ANNEX “E” and series -- Notice of Judgement and Decision of the Supreme Court;
6. ANNEX “F” and series – Sinumpaang Salaysay of Noel Gaburnes y Servana, the witness who retracted his testimony; and
7. ANNEX “G” and series -- Certificate of Post–Mortem Examination of Romeleo Quintos y Anastacio, showing he died by hanging.
I reiterate my heart’s fervent wish: Freedom in the name of love.
Fiancée of Prisoner
Neil T. Baluyot
Thru the kindness of:
Mayor Alfredo S. Lim