The GMA administration’s decision to give clemency to Rodolfo Manalili, the self-confessed mastermind in the gruesome April 1990 abduction-slay of UP students Ernesto “Cochise” Bernabe II and and Ana Lourdes “Beebom” Castaños is a politically stupid decision. It is one of those decisions, like the Jalosjos conditional pardon, that somebody close to Malacañang and Manalili thought can safely pass below the public radar.
I fear that by this act, at least for the middle class, the legacy by which the GMA administration will be remembered is its reaching the historical apex of what is called “political accommodation.” She is being pushed by those around her towards a suicidal course, possibly in preparation for their own desertion in the coming election season.
If the Jalosjos rape case has a victim from a vulnerable sector of the indigenous people, the Manalili double murder case has for its victims coming from the politically-decisive middle class. After all these eighteen years, the wounds are still fresh. The political fall-out here is greater and may fatally mark the GMA administration.
If GMA does not retract this clemency, the stakes in the coming elections will become higher still–with the very survival of senior administration people, elective and appointive, in the line of fire. The political will have become personal for many in the middle class.