Press Release
December 7, 2010

"A Time to Heal All Wounds: Towards Genuine National Reconciliation"
Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona
Sponsorship Speech

Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines
December 7, 2010

Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues:

I stand before you today as a firm believer that national reconciliation is paramount to enduring peace, and is the golden key to move this nation forward. With national unification comes stability, which in turn allows us to achieve prosperity in terms of economic, political and social advancements.

Allowing those who may have committed unlawful acts in pursuit of their political beliefs, the opportunity to return to the folds of the law, and become productive, beneficial and loyal members of society, opens the doors to national reconciliation.

Proclamation No. 75, issued by President Benigno Aquino, is a stepping stone to national reconciliation. It grants amnesty "to active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and their supporters who may have committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War and other laws in connection with the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines Stand-Off and the Manila Peninsula Incident."

Amnesty has been viewed as an Act of Compassion. As a form of executive clemency, the government acknowledges "that human institutions are imperfect and that there are infirmities in the administration of justice"1. Amnesty, therefore exists as an instrument for correcting these infirmities and for mitigating whatever harshness might be generated by a strict application of the law. As derived from its Greek root amnestia, which translates to "forgiveness," the government chooses to turn a blind eye on the law being broken, for the sake of paramount state interests of peace and unity. In point of fact, amnesty not only forgives, it also forgets.

As early as 1902, US President Theodore Roosevelt granted amnesty to Filipinos who participated in the insurrection against the United States, by virtue of Proclamation No. 48, wherein amnesty was described as "conducive to peace, order and loyalty." From the time of Roosevelt came many more proclamations from the likes of Roxas, Quirino, Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Macapagal-Arroyo, and most recently, President Benigno Aquino.

This rich history of amnesties reveals the wisdom of our past leaders, and brings to light the government's consistent policy on peace restoration as a tool for national progress and development. Facilitating the return into our democratic society, of individuals, who have, in some way, offended the laws of the state, has been established as a catalyst for this nation to move forward. While an amnesty is "not" the only means to achieve national progress and development, its relevance and benefits cannot be taken for granted. An amnesty may not be a giant leap, but it is a step nevertheless towards building a "just and humane society" under the rule of law, and a "regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace."2

As mandated by the Constitution, the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress is needed for the President to grant amnesty. Accordingly, the senate, as a collegial body, is here to decide whether or not to concur with Proclamation No. 75.

Some quarters have expressed the opinion that the grant of amnesty promotes military adventurism. That is False. Military uprisings do not happen in a vacuum.3 As stated by the Davide Commission:

A coup d'etat does not happen overnight. Neither does a revolution or popular uprising of the citizenry itself. The responsibility of the political leadership is to build a national consensus on what must be done to address the underlying problems indicated by the symptoms. Since many of the problems of the country are structural in character, there are no quick solutions, although one can resort to "damage control" and short-term alleviation to buy time. The longer-term solutions, however, must start today.4

Military uprisings do not happen in a vacuum. They happen in situations of social unrest and political injustice. They happen when high civilian government officials blatantly disregard the rule of law. It happens when high civilian government officials oppress people and violate their basic rights with impunity. It happens when high civilian government officials destroy the trust of the Filipino people in governmental institutions, like the use of certain elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in massive cheating of the Presidential elections. It happens amidst extreme corruption and mis-governance by high civilian government officials. Furthermore, the Feliciano Commission has also stated that one of the root causes of military adventurism is the "enlistment by civilian persons, including politicians, of military support for their personal and political ambitions. This contributes to military politicization and adventurism...When adequately motivated, military adventurers could exploit this situation to destabilize and overthrow the Government."5

The Feliciano Commission in its Fact-Finding Report also stated, and I quote:

"Civilian political leaders must restrain themselves from enlisting military support for their personal and political agenda as this can only further politicize the military and grievously endanger the constitutional system. This is a theme that should constantly be recalled to politicians and political parties."6 END QUOTE

Ang pag-aalsa ng ating military ay hindi umusbong sa wala. Ang pag-aalsa nila ay dahil sa kurapsyon, pandaraya sa eleksyon, pagsisinungaling, at pagnanakaw ng mga sibilyang politico na dating nakaluklok sa ating gubyerno. Kung mayroon mang dapat sisihin sa mga kudeta at mga pag-aalsa, ito ay ang mga sibilyang politiko.

According to the Feliciano Commission Report, former military rebels who have turned their back on military adventurism could be used to conduct regular dialogues within the AFP for this purpose. The adoption of a program of this nature should go a long way towards neutralizing the coup virus.7 This is one of the advantages the government may obtain by granting amnesty. Furthermore, these amnesty grantees of the AFP "could become a reliable ally instead of being a threat group to the government. They can be used as a sounding board for grievances within the ranks of the AFP."8

An amnesty, therefore, does not encourage nor instigate military adventurism; instead, it leads to sustainable peace and genuine reconciliation.

Some quarters also oppose the amnesty because they assert that the participants should be punished instead of being treated lightly. In answer to that, I quote Brigadier General Danilo Lim:

"The participants (in the 1987 and 1989 coup attempts) were detained, many of us in common prisons. Our pay and allowances were cut off and our families starved. We were detained for three years; the others more than five years; and many were removed from the service. While the amnesty did reinstate our duty status, it was at a cost. Despite the amnesty, there were no promotions for so long, nor (sic) any extra considerations. We were pariahs in the institution we loved and continue to love." END QUOTE.

Worthy of note is also the fact that all of the soldiers have been detained for a substantial period of time: in the case of those in the Marine Standoff - more than four years, and in the case of the Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula Incident - nearly seven years. This can be considered as more than sufficient to penalize them for past actions.

In addition, according to Retired Commodore Rex Robles, a member of the Feliciano Commission, which investigated the Oakwood Mutiny, the soldiers who are the subjects of this Amnesty proclamation have in fact been made to endure the harshest punishment ever.9

There are also those that have expressed the opinion that since the RTC of Makati will render a decision on December 16, 2010, the on-going proceedings for the grant of amnesty is an interference with the judicial process and should therefore be suspended. Jurisprudence has held "that the Amnesty Proclamation is a public act, of which the courts SHOULD take judicial notice."10 It is therefore clear that if there is any entity that must suspend its proceedings, it is the courts. Furthermore, jurisprudence has held that Amnesty is granted generally before or after the institution of the criminal prosecution, and sometimes, after conviction.11

Some hold the view that there must be an admission of guilt by the applicants of the amnesty before they can avail of it. Those who have taken this stand cite the case of VERA VS. PEOPLE.12 This case provides that to avail of the benefits of an amnesty proclamation, one must admit his guilt of the offense covered by the proclamation.13  However, Fr. Bernas in his column, "Sounding Board,"14 dated November 29, 2010, opined that, and I quote:

"the need to admit guilt is not a firmly established rule." END QUOTE.

In Vera vs. People, Fr. Bernas further stated that:

"the real reason for the denial of amnesty was not that the accused did not admit guilt but rather that the offense was not covered by the amnesty proclamation." END QUOTE.

With respect to those who mutinied against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Fr. Bernas asserted that they, and I quote:

" not seem to be accused of having committed any other crime than that of mutiny against Arroyo. It would be pointless to ask them whether indeed they committed mutiny." END QUOTE.

Ultimately, he opined that, and again I quote:

"the need to admit guilt should apply only when the offense alleged is something that can be done for motives that may have nothing to do with defeating a declared enemy."

In Vera vs. People, it was held that:

"the invocation of amnesty is in the nature of a plea of confession and avoidance, which means that the pleader admits the allegations against him but disclaims liability therefor on account of intervening facts which, if proved would bring the crime charged within the scope of the amnesty proclamation."15 END QUOTE.

When one applies for amnesty before the ad hoc amnesty committee, then that would be an unequivocal plea of confession and avoidance.

They have also alleged that there is no "clamor from certain sectors of society urging the President to extend amnesty," and that the only ones "clamoring" were some senators with ulterior motives. We would like to call the attention of everyone that in a statement published on 16 September 2010 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, respected leaders of various sectors of civil society urged President Aquino to consider granting amnesty to members of the AFP, who stood against the Arroyo Administration. It can be reasonably and practically assumed that these leaders represent the views and reflect the sentiments of a majority of the people.

The signatories include, among many, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, former Senate Presidents Jovito R. Salonga and Ernesto Maceda, former Chief Justice Renato Puno, former House Speaker Jose De Venecia, Religious leaders like retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Novaliches Archbishop Teodoro Bacani, Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, of the CBCP, Sr. Mary John Manansan,OSB, of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, television evangelists and "Jesus is Lord" Church leader, Eduardo "Eddie" Villanueva, esteemed opinion leaders like UP Professor Randy David, Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva, UP Law Professor Raul Pangalangan, and many more civil society leaders, former legislators, former senior government officials and respected local government officials. Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues, a copy of the complete list of signatories is hereby annexed to my speech.16

We, at the Senate, give our full recognition, deepest appreciation and utmost respect to the past and present members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who have dedicated their lives to defend this nation. If they have a legacy to leave behind, it would definitely be their courage and patriotism. These are the very virtues that every Filipino should espouse.

As the Proclamation of the President requires the concurrence of Congress to have the full force and effect of law, it is but prudent and necessary that we, at the Senate, do everything we can to guarantee the efficient and proper execution of the amnesty.

Mr. President, and my distinguished colleagues, the beneficiaries of Proclamation No. 75, together with their families and loved ones, appeal to our sense of compassion and generosity. They have endured enough suffering to last them a lifetime. In this blessed season of joy and forgiveness, may we be one in concurring with this Proclamation. This would be the GREATEST CHRISTMAS GIFT we could offer them. Let us prove our worth not only as legislators, but as humanitarians. Thank you. AND A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!



Q: What is the Statement published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer?*

A: In the Spirit of Peace and Reconciliation

We issue this appeal to His Excellency PRESIDENT BENIGNO "PNoy" S. Aquino III to GRANT AMENSTY to the active and former officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who stood against the previous administration.

Their battle cry - CHANGE - has coalesced into the bigger struggle of millions of other patriotic and freedom-loving Filipinos: the fight against corruption, electoral fraud and other evils of bad governance.

This appeal is not to encourage impunity for their actions in the Oakwood incident of 2003; in the Marine Standoff of 2006; nor for those in the Peninsula Manila Siege of November 2007; and several other related incidents. These soldiers have already suffered the consequences of their actions. They have paid their dues. We believe it is the time for them to rebuild their lives, and in the process, contribute to rebuilding this nation.

For some time now, previous administrations have pursued acts of reconciliation with avowed enemies of the State like the CPP/NPA/NDF, the MNLF, and the MILF. It would only be just if the same conciliatory approach is extended to the very same soldiers who have devoted most of their lives in the service of our country and people.

President Noy, we believe that GRANTING AMNESTY to these soldiers is not only acceptable, but also timely in view of the Government's agenda of peace and reconciliation.

As we join together in this call, we hereby affix our signatures:

Q: Who are the signatories of the foregoing Statement?


1) Joseph Ejercito Estrada - Former President of the Philippines
2) Teofisto Guingona Jr. - Former Vice President
3) Jovito R. Salonga - Former Senate President
4) Ernesto Maceda - Former Senate President
5) Justice Reynato S. Puno - Former Chief Justice
6) Jose De Venecia, Jr. - Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
7) Alfredo S. Lim - Mayor, City of Manila
8) Ramon B. Magsaysay - Former Senator
9) Leticia R. Shahani - Former Senator
10) Victor Ziga - Fomer Senator
11) Artemio G. Tuquero - Former Senator
12) Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva - Leader of Jesus is Our Lord Movement
13) Rev. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. - Dean Emritus, Ateneo School of Law
14) Archbishop Oscar Cruz - Roman Catholic Church, Philippines
15) Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani - Roman Catholic Church, Philippines
16) Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo - National Director, CBCP-NASSA
17) Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB - Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines
18) Bishop Danny D. Dapitan - Iglesia Filipina Independiente
19) MGEN. Ramon J. Farolan, AFP (Ret) - Former Commanding General, Philippine Air Force
20) LTGEN. Romeo B. Dominquez - Armed Forces of the Philippines
21) Comm. Rex C. Robles, AFP (Ret) - Consultant
22) Comm. Ismael D. Appari, AFP (Ret) - President, YES ARM
23) Col. Mariano R. Santiago (Ret) - Former Director, LTO
24) Fr. Gerson Senturias, Conference Minister, UCCP
25) Dr. Jose V. Abueva - Professor, UP-NCPAG
26) Dr. Frnacisco Nemenzo - Former President, UP
27) Atty. Cesar L. Villanueva - Dean, Ateneo School of Law
28) Prof. Randy David - UP, Diliman
29) Raul C. Pangalangan - Professor of Law, UP
30) Prof. Tomas B. Lopez, Jr. - President, University of Makati
31) Oscar M. Orbos - Former Governor, Pangasinan
32) Imee R. Marcos - Governor, Ilocos Norte
33) Antonio A. Gallardo - Former Governor, Camiguin
34) Alvin G. Dans - Former Congressman & Chairman - National Amnesty Commission
35) Macabangkit Lanto - Former Congressman & Ambassador
36) Felicito C. Payumo - Former Congressman & Former Chair, SBMA
37) Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel - Former Representative, AKBAYAN
38) Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao - Former Security of Finance
39) Chito Gascon - Director General, Liberal Party
40) Jose "Joey" De Venecia III - Secretary General, PDP-LABAN
41) Antonio S. Tria - Former USEC, DENR
42) Atty. Harry Roque - Concerned Citizen Movement
43) Imelda Nicolas - Co-Convenor, Black & White Movement
44) Leah Navarro - Executive Director, Co-Convenor, Black & White Movement
45) Karen Tanada, Executive Director, Gaston Z. Ortigas Institute & Co-Convenor, Black & White Movement
46) Elizabeth Yang - Executive Director, Pilipinia, Inc. & Co-Covenor, Black & White Movement
47) Ana Maria R. Nemenzo - Former President, Freedom from Debt Coalition
48) Herman Tiu Laurel - Journalist, The Daily Tribune
49) Atty. Vicente T. Verdadero - Lawyer
50) Florangel Rosario Braid - Constitutional Commissioner, 1986
51) Mae P. Paner - Artist aka "Juana Change"
52) Nestor T. Castro, Ph. D. - Dept. of Anthropology, UP, Diliman
53) Priscelina Patajo-Legaspi, Ph. D. - College of Arts & Letters, UP
54) Rafael Rodrigues - Former VP for Development, UP
55) Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada - Whistleblower
56) Pedro R. Abraham - Professor, UP, Diliman
57) Aileen S.p. Baviera - Professor, UP, Diliman
58) Prof. Earl Stanley B. Fronda - Dept. of Philosophy, UP
59) Atty. Byron Bocar - AKBAYAN
60) Corazon V. Fabros - Lawyer
61) Roberto Bleza - Former President, Rotary Club of Guadalupe
62) Aurelio Reyes - Former Governor, D-381, Manila Rotary Club
63) Resty Lopez - Former President, Rotary Club of Guadalupe
64) Atty. Antonoio L. Cardino - Charter Vice President, Rotary Club of Guadalupe
65) Salomon F. Reyes - Charter Vice President, Rotary Club of Guadalupe
66) Adres G. Panganiban - Banker
67) Alain del Pascua - President, KAAKBAY
68) Jonathan Juan DC Moreno - President, Institute of Corporate Directors
69) Mercy L. Fabros - WomanHealth, Philippines
70) Erwin Lara - AKBAYAN
71) Gerardo Bulatao - Co-Convenor, Black & White Movement
72) Gus Lagman - Co-Convenor, Black & White Movement
73) Fr. Nathan Lerio - Social Action Director, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro
74) Rev. Diosdado Marquez - United Church of Christ in the Philippines
75) Rev. Rufiano Cabada - United Church of Christ in the Philippines
76) Rev. Rolando Abejo - United Church of Christ in the Philippines
77) Rev. Emma Catubig - Iglesia Filipina Independiente
78) Rev. Antonio Ablon - Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Cagayan De Oro
79) Rev. Rey Alejandro Lazaro - United Church of Christ in the Philippines
80) Sr. Tessi Dalugdugan - FMDA, Sisters Association in Mindanao
81) Rev. Melzar Labuntog - UCCP-NWMJ
82) Fr. Chris Ablon - Iglesia Filipina Independiente
83) Rev. James D. Perocillo - Minster, United Methodist Church
84) Rev. Samboy Limbag - Pastor, UCCP


1 Bernas, The 1987 Constitution
2 Preamble, 1987 Philippine Constitution
3 Opening Statement of Brig. Gen. Danilo D. Lim (October 18, 2010)
4 Davide Fact-Finding Commission Report. (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism)
5 Feliciano Fact-Finding Commission Report ( (The Information Site on Philippine Politics and Governance)
6 Ibid.
7 Feliciano Fact-Finding Commission ( (The Information Site on Philippine Politics and Governance)
8 Magdalo Amnesty Brief
9 Philippine Daily Inquirer, dated July 19, 2010
10 Barrioquinto vs. Fernandez [85 Phil. 642, 1949]; People vs. Casido and Alcorin [G.R. No. 116512. March 7, 1997]
11 Ibid.
12 7 SCRA 152.
13 Ibid.
14 Proclamation No. 75: Amnesty, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 29, 2010.
15 7 SCRA 152
16 Please refer to Annex.

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