Senate approved Trillanes amnesty declaration — news clipping
(Editor’s note: A news story published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Dec. 8, 2010, reported that the Senate approved former President Aquino’s Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to the application of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and military officers, soldiers and civilians (including communist rebels) who participated in three military uprisings during the Arroyo administration. Below is the copy of the story written by Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.)
Senate approves amnesty declaration
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer December 8, 2010 Page A1
THE SENATE yesterday approved President Aquino’s Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and military officers, soldiers and civilians (including communist rebels) who participated in three military uprisings during the Arroyo administration.
Fourteen senators supported the amnesty, one (Sen. Joker Arroyo) opposed it and another (Sen. Gregorio Honasan) abstained. Honasan could benefit from the amnesty grant being a respondent in one of the coup d’etat cases.
The amnesty would take effect 15 days after the publication of the proclamation. The Department of National Defense was given up to 90 days to decide on those who have applied for amnesty.
In Bani, Pangasinan, Mr. Aquino indicated that criminal cases would proceed against those who would not apply for amnesty despite being covered by his proclamation.
“I would assume if one doesn’t avail [himself] of the amnesty, the wheels of justice will continue to move,” the President told reporters.
“Amnesty not only forgives, but it also forgets … The beneficiaries of Proclamation No. 75 appeal to our sense of compassion and generosity. They have endured enough suffering to last them a lifetime. This would be the greatest Christmas gift we could offer them,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona said in his sponsorship speech of Senate Resolution No. 4 supporting the proclamation.
Guingona is the chair of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation.
Lack of remorse
Arroyo said the grant was “mishandled” as he complained about the lack of consultation with Congress, the broad scope of the presidential act, and the lack of remorse or admission of guilt by the rebel soldiers.
Sen. Miguel Zubiri voted “yes” to the amnesty but said he would have preferred that recidivists or those who would commit rebellious acts anew would not be eligible for amnesty again.
At the hearing of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation yesterday morning, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said: “The main purpose of the amnesty is to forgive and forget such that there’s no more reason even for this case to remain pending.”
The list of eligible military personnel and civilians was based on the pending cases filed by the Department of Justice during the past administration.
Ochoa and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin clarified reports on the scope of the amnesty as senators argued whether civilians should be among those to be given amnesty.
Ochoa said that while there were leftist rebels included in the case filed by the Department of Justice, the amnesty would only apply to their acts of rebellion in any
of the three coup d’etat attempts—the Oakwood mutiny, the Marine stand-off, and the Peninsula Manila siege.
Trillanes, one of the leaders of the Magdalo group, figured in both the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and the Peninsula Manila siege in 2007. While in prison, he ran for senator in 2007 and won.
Sen. Francis Escudero said it was possible that other civilians could still surface and apply for amnesty since a number of people implicated in the acts of rebellion were not identified.
“This was the reason why it was pointless to come up with an official list of the eligible persons for amnesty,” Escudero said in reaction to the brouhaha over the unverified list of those eligible for the amnesty which included Honasan.
Honasan, who led seven coup attempts against the administration of then President Corazon Aquino in the second half of the 1980s, was charged as a conspirator in the Marine stand-off.
Gazmin said there were “mixed feelings” about the reinstatement of mutinous peers to their old ranks but he noted that the resistance was not that strong. “If we can explain the spirit of the proclamation they might understand it,” the defense secretary said.
After the hearing, former Col. Ariel Querubin, who was arrested in connection with the Marine stand-off, said: “If government will not walk the straight path, as long as idealistic officers, we cannot stop them from doing what is right.”
Querubin was released recently. With a report from Norman Bordadora
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.