House panel okays amnesty resolution

December 02, 2010

FORMER President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed no opposition to amnesty rebel soldiers that mounted botched mutinees against her administration as Malacañang’s proclamation no. 75 was passed in the House of Representative unanimously.

In a news conference, the House minority bloc, led by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said the opposition has no objection to the granting of amnesty to the rebel soldiers.

Asked if former President Arroyo had anything to say about the amnesty, Lagman said: “She (Rep. Arroyo) has not said anything for or against the amnesty.”

The House joint committees on justice and national defense, co-chaired by Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas and Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, unanimously voted on Wednesday approving House Concurrent Resolution 8, concurring with President Aquino’s Proclamation 75 granting amnesty to soldiers who rebelled against the Arroyo administration.

The vote paves the way for plenary action at the latest, Wednesday next week, upon which the amnesty proclamation would have fulfilled the constitutional requirements to be effective and executable.

During the hearing, Biazon raised the issue if Gen. Danilo Lim should retract his statement that he would not admit guilt when he applies for amnesty.

“That is Lim’s problem. But he has to retract his statement because by mere applying for amnesty is already an admission of guilt,” Biazon said.

Both Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Legal Counsel Ed de Mesa indicated admission of guilt is part of the amnesty process.

“It is clear once they file application, they already admitted guilt,” Ochoa stressed.

Biazon also asked if the two “recidivists”—Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin, who were granted amnesty in 1995 after they participated in the 1989 coup d’etat against the late former Pres. Corazon Aquino, should be granted amnesty anew, the Palace executives were quick to say the recidivist issue would be applied to the next mutiny, thereby exempting Lim and Querubin.

Also during the hearing, Lagman revived his concern last week to reinvite detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, being the primary beneficiary of the proclamation.

Tupas, however, said they did not reinvite Trillanes anymore since the latter cited “delicadeza” in his letter as reason for not appearing before the committee.

The committee voted on a revised amnesty proclamation which included amendments drafted by a small working group of lawmakers.

Tupas listed the amendments as follows: deletion of the phrase “all related incidents” in the official title of the proclamation; explicit enumeration of the crimes of supporters of the rebel soldiers; and explicit statement that amnesty shall not cover rape, torture and crimes against chastity.

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