Nothing is more painful than losing a child. I know this from hard, bitter, personal experience. It’s an almost literally unspeakable event, which I would not wish on my worst enemy.
So for people in the Arroyo government to blithely dismiss the suffering of the Hultman couple over the death of their daughter Maureen, who was murdered by convicted killer Claudio Teehankee, Jr., is particularly vicious and uncalled for. Having set Teehankee free, the Arroyo administration continues to rub salt on the still fresh wounds of the Hultman family by making light of their pain.
The Hultmans were understandably shocked and angry over the unexpected release of Bobbin Teehankee. And the members of the Arroyo cabinet, in their zeal to defend their boss, have been making cruel statements tending to belittle the family’s perfectly valid feelings.
No one is more callous than Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales. He has called the Hultmans “hypocrites” for having been appalled by the Teehankee pardon. Gonzales bases his opinion on the supposed settlement of the civil indemnity for the Hultman murder made in 1999. Precisely, whatever settlement was made was on the civil aspect of Teehankee’s liability for the crime. The criminal aspect has still to be properly served out by Bobbin. In fact, the Hultmans are not questioning Arroyo’s prerogative to grant pardons. They just want to know why they were not properly informed of the impending release, as required by law. Gonzales’ answer:
I don’t think we have to fly to Sweden just to notify them. And they know, based on this (settlement) document, that this was going to happen. They’re hypocrites.
The Hultmans relocated to Sweden after the trial and conviction of Mr. Teehankee. But they could have been informed through our embassy or consular offices. A simple letter or email would have sufficed. Gonzales goes on to say that if the Hultman’s can’t take it, they can “jump in the lake” , “the North Sea being big enough” to accomodate the whole family.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was quoted as saying there’s no need to “reach out” to the Hultmans. In other words: tough shit, your kid’s dead.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza takes the legalistic route and insists that “technically” Teehankee was not pardoned and that his sentence was only subject to commutation. But whether it be pardon or commutation, it’s still an exercise of executive clemency. He goes on to say, in a non-sequitur, that it’s just a case of the “the rich verus the rich” and should therefore be ignored . Huh ? This is about the cold-blooded murder of two young people and the serious wounding of another. And the convicted murderer going scot-free after serving only a fraction of his sentence.
What is clear is that Arroyo has set the tone for this cold and unfeeling attitude among her subordinates. She just doesn’t give a damn about others, and the Filipino people in general, as long as she gets her way.
Tactless, tasteless and totally insensitive – that is the justice secretary for you. For sheer boorishness and insensitivity, his remarks against the Hultmans take the cake. Someone ought to tell Gonzalez to go jump into the filthy Pasig River with his foul mouth, according to the Inquirer.
In a more civil and decent administration such coarse remarks would have cost Gonzalez his job. But apparently the President thinks he is just being cute. Or perhaps she believes she needs a resident heckler in her Cabinet to drown out protests against the miscues and blunders of her administration.