House body to study amnesty proclamation

THE HOUSE Committees on Justice and National Defense have decided to create a committee that will study proposed amendments to Proclamation 50 issued by President Aquino granting amnesty to soldiers that figured in the Oakwood mutiny, Marines standoff and the Manila Peninsula Hotel incident.

On the second joint committee hearing on House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 7 concurring with the amnesty proclamation, justice committee chair Rep. Neil Tupas Jr. (5th District, Iloilo) called for the creation of a small working group to draft possible suggestions for amendments of the proclamation.

HCR 7 was filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Deputy Speaker Lorenzo R. Tañada and Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales II.

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City), Chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, said amnesty is a shared power between the President and Congress and such becomes effective only after concurrence of majority of all members of Congress.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who was present during the hearing said the President is willing to amend Proclamation 50. He said they are ready to clarify the “effectivity clause” and the coverage of the amnesty proclamation.

“We are likewise ready to consider these proposals and if necessary, we may agree to amend the proclamation,” Ochoa said. He added that the lawmakers can list down the necessary amendments and submit them to the President for consideration.

Ochoa explained that under Proclamation 50, the applicants – AFP officers and personnel – have to show proof of participation in the three incidents covered by the issuance.  They may be granted amnesty but there shall be no reinstatement or reintegration into the armed forces, he added.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told the hearing that amnesty is essentially a presidential prerogative and that Congress cannot introduce amendments. She also said admission of guilt is not a condition precedent for amnesty; otherwise it will be like pardon where conviction will be required.

Also present during the hearing were National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Gen. Danilo Lim, Col. Ariel Querubin and Feliciano Commission Members Commodore Rex Robles and Capt. Roland Narciso.

Senator Antonio Trillanes was also invited but did not attend the hearing out of delicadeza despite permission from the court. D’Jay Lazaro

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