MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino III has signed a proclamation granting amnesty to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other soldiers involved in the Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.
Aquino said what he signed was a proclamation and is subject to concurrence by Congress.
The President made the announcement in an ambush interview after visiting the launch of the Electronic Business Name Registration System (eBNRS) at the DTI-NCR Area 3 office at Highway 54 along EDSA.
Aquino said the Department of Defense will process the application for the amnesty once it is concurred in by Congress.
The proclamation is expected to be sent to Congress today, Aquino said.
Trillanes is in military detention for his involvement in 2 of the events, including the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula Siege.
Other top military officials involved in the mutinous plots are former Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Marines Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda.
Lim, who ran for senator last May under President Aquino's political party, is involved in both the 2006 standoff and the Manila Peninsula Siege while Miranda is in detention for his alleged role in the Marine standoff.
In September, a group composed of prominent people came out with a full-page advertisement urging President Aquino to grant amnesty to the so-called Magdalo soldiers.
The group asked President Aquino to "grant amnesty to the active and former officers and enlisted personnel" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) "who stood against the previous administration."
Among the signatories were former president Joseph Estrada, former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona Jr., former Senate Presidents Jovito Salonga and Ernesto Maceda, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
"These soldiers have already suffered the consequences of their actions. They have paid their dues. We believe that it is the time for them to rebuild their lives, and in the process, contribute to rebuilding this nation," the ad stated.
Two months before the open letter came out, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima submitted to President Aquino its evaluation on the case of Trillanes.
This was after President Aquino ordered De Lima to review the coup d'etat charge against Trillanes since the elements of a coup were not present during the short-lived Oakwood mutiny.
"[Trillanes] was imprisoned because of Oakwood. My opinion is, and that is just my individual opinion, the fiscal should not have let that case prosper. There are several other cases but the coup d'etat case has specific requirements, which were not present. I think there was injustice there," the President said.
The statement sparked a brief debate at the Senate. Several senators criticized Aquino for allegedly meddling in a judicial matter.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan has proposed to file a bill in the Senate that will grant amnesty to junior officers who participated in the failed 2003 Oakwood Mutiny. With reports from Ruby Tayag, radio dzMM and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
Below is the complete text of the amnesty proclamation:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
PROCLAMATION NO. 50
GRANTING AMNESTY TO ACTIVE AND FORMER PERSONNEL OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THEIR SUPPORTERS WHO MAY HAVE COMMITTED ACTS OR OMISSIONS PUNISHABLE UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE, THE ARTICLES OF WAR OR OTHER SPECIAL LAWS COMMITTED IN CONNECTION WITH THE OAKWOOD MUTINY, THE MARINES STAND-OFF AND THE MANILA PEN INCIDENT AND RELATED INCIDENTS
WHEREAS, it is recognized that certain active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their supporters have or may have committed acts or omissions which may be punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War and other laws in connection with July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident and related incidents;
WHEREAS, there is a clamor from certain sectors of society urging the President to extend amnesty to said AFP personnel;
WHEREAS, Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution expressly vests the power to grant amnesty upon the President;
WHEREAS, in order to promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring peace and in line with the Government’s peace and reconciliation initiatives, there is a need to declare amnesty in favor of the said active and former personnel of the AFP and their supporters;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by Section 19, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution, do hereby DECLARE and PROCLAIM:
SECTION 1. Grant of Amnesty. – Amnesty is hereby granted to all active and former personnel of the AFP as well as their supporters who shall apply therefor and who have or may have committed acts or omissions punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War or other special laws in connection with, in relation or incident to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and/or the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident and related incidents; Provided that amnesty shall not cover crimes against chastity and other crimes committed for personal ends.
SECTION 2. Where to Apply. – The concerned AFP personnel and their supporters may apply for amnesty under this Proclamation with the Department of National Defense (DND). The DND is hereby tasked with the functions and duties of receiving and processing applications for amnesty under this proclamation and determining whether the applicants are covered by amnesty under this Proclamation. The final decisions or determination of the DND shall be appealable to the Office of the President.
SECTION 3. Period of Application. – Applications for the grant of amnesty under this Proclamation shall be filed under oath with the DND within a period of ninety (90) days following the date of the publication of this Proclamation in two (2) newspapers of general circulation. The DND shall forthwith act on the same with dispatch.
SECTION 4. Effects. –
(a) Amnesty under this proclamation shall extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in relation to, in connection with or incident to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons.
(b) The grant of amnesty shall also effect the restoration of civil and political rights or entitlement that may have been suspended, lost or adversely affected by virtue of ant executive action and/or administrative criminal action or proceedings lodged against the grantee in connection with the subject incidents, including criminal conviction or any form, if any.
(c) All enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines whose applications for amnesty would be approved shall be entitled to reintegration or reinstatement, subject to existing laws and regulations. Officers of the AFP on the other hand shall not be entitled to reintegration or reinstatement into the service.
(d) The amnesty shall reinstate the right of AFP personnel to retirement and separation benefits, if so qualified under existing laws and regulations at the same time of the commission of the acts for which the amnesty is extended.
SECTION 5. Effectivity. – This Proclamation shall take effect immediately upon the signing thereof.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
DONE in the City of Manila, 11th day of October in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Ten.
(Sgd.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
By the President:
(Sgd.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.