The President, through Proclamation No. 572, has declared and proclaimed as void ab initio the amnesty granted to Senator Trillanes under Proclamation No. 75 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III last November 24, 2010.
While the Senate and the House of Representatives concurred with Proclamation No. 75, both houses recommended that no application for amnesty shall be given due course without the applicant admitting his guilt or criminal culpability of any or all of the subject incidents in writing as expressed in his application. Consistent with such recommendation, the DND Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee crafted an implementing rule which basically states that no application shall be approved without an express admission by the applicant of actual involvement or participation in connection with, in relation or incident to the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines Stand-Off and/or the Peninsula Manila Hotel Incident as indicated in the application form.
Given these mandatory requirements that must be complied with by an applicant for a grant of amnesty, and the failure of Senator Trillanes to submit an application for amnesty under oath and admit guilt to the charges in relation to the said incidents, as well as his public declaration of refusal to admit to the crimes charged against him, Senator Trillanes cannot avail of the benefits granted underProclamation No. 75 or the amnesty proclamation. As such, the amnesty granted to Senator Trillanes is void ab initio or one which is to be treated as invalid from the outset.
Even assuming that Proclamation No. 75 is valid and is compliant with the pertinent laws, rules and regulations of an executive clemency, the declaration of the grant of amnesty as regards Senator Trillanes as void is constitutionally allowed.
Aside from the grounds mentioned in Proclamation No. 572, the amnesty can be declared null even without the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress. Senator Trillanes has abused a grant of amnesty, albeit void, and it compels its nullification by the President – the official authority who is considered by the 1987 Constitution as the grantor of executive clemencies.
The State cannot be shackled by an act of clemency it has given to a political offender when the latter pursues subsequent acts inimical to its interest and violative of its fundamental charter. The State, acting through the President, has the inherent right to protect itself from assault coming from whatever source. As Chief Executive and Head of Government, he has the power to issue orders protective of the State and its people. This is in line with the prime duty of the government to serve and protect the people under Article II, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.
SALVADOR S. PANELO
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel