A lot of people were surprised with the Not Guilty plea of Renato Llenes, the accused in the gruesome murder of Christine Silawan. The case is now in the headlines again, after having subsided from the public sphere when the Office of the City Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu City, through its Investigating Panel, found probable cause against Llenes, and not against my CICL client, for the murder of Silawan. (To recall, my client was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI Saturday after that Monday when the dead body of the child victim was found.)

Many probably thought that it would have been a simple “Guilty or not?” with Guilty as an answer, and Llenes goes to jail for reclusion perpetua (20 years 1 day to 40 years imprisonment). Justice served: many were calling for the imposition of the death penalty on him, but the death penalty is currently suspended. There was no way he could escape his reportedly 24-page confession duly assisted by counsel anyway.

But I clearly see Atty. Degollacion’s logic in telling his client to plead not guilty to Murder, although they would be willing to plea guilty to Homicide. We lawyers are tasked to assist our clients to the best of our abilities, to find what is the best course of action under the circumstances.

Mr. Llenes’ pleading guilty to Murder would necessarily convict him of Murder, with the reclusion perpetua penalty. Murder being a heinous crime, he could not claim time allowances during the time he would be in serving his sentence.

On the other hand, if he fights it out and get convicted only for Homicide, he would be sentenced to reclusion temporal (12 years 1 day to 20 years imprisonment), and, given the time allowances allowed by our laws, he could get out as early as 7 years.