Aquino: If my amnesty grant is wrong, those of past presidents are also wrong
Updated @ 12:29 a.m., Sept. 12, 2018
Former President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said that if the process he followed in granting amnesty to military rebel Antonio Trillanes IV in 2011 was invalid as Malacañang claimed, then all the amnesty grants by his predecessors were also invalid.
Aquino said he followed the amnesty process used by Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“If our grant of amnesty to Trillanes was wrong, then it follows that the grants by the other Presidents were also wrong because the process followed by everyone was the same,” he said by phone.
If the Duterte administration wants to rescind the amnesty given to Trillanes, it must also rescind the amnesty grants by all the past Presidents, Aquino said.
“How many thousands are those?” he asked.
Aquino was commenting on Malacañang’s claim that the amnesty granted to Trillanes was void because it was recommended and granted by his former defense secretary, Voltaire Gazmin.
President Duterte himself had said that granting amnesty was a sole prerogative of the President and it could not be delegated to other officials.
Aquino said he did not delegate his amnesty power to Gazmin.
“Proclamation No. 75 is the document that I signed,” he said, referring to his 2010 amnesty proclamation concurred in by Congress.
“I did not delegate. That is the practical way of carrying this program out, which is to assign a body to tackle the applications of specific individuals,” he said.
If Malacañang wants to see a document that he signed granting amnesty to Trillanes, it should look for amnesty grants signed by his mother, President Corazon Aquino, and Presidents Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo, he said.
‘Gift’ to Duterte
Former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte said on Tuesday that the scrapping of Trillanes’ amnesty was apparently done in retaliation for the senator’s fierce criticism of the Duterte administration: “Do unto others what they do unto you.”
Almonte, national security adviser to Ramos, said the Golden Rule — do to others what you want others to do to you—was a gem.
“But do not apply it the wrong way,” he said.
Trillanes is a gift to President Rodrigo Duterte, as he is proof that there is democracy in the Philippines, Almonte said.
“We are a democracy. Within a democracy you have an opposition,” he said
Almonte recalled that during martial law, President Ferdinand Marcos’ Cabinet wanted to run after the opposition.
“What Marcos said was this: You know, we are a democracy. If we do not have an opposition, maybe we even have to organize one. Otherwise we will not have democracy,” Almonte said.
“Trillanes is a gift to President Duterte because he is the only opposition,” he added.
Probe loss of application
Almonte said Trillanes should not be punished because his application for amnesty could not be found.
“You investigate why they cannot find the original. That’s not enough basis to the conclusion that there’s no application,” he said. —With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
/kga /pdi /atm
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