An amnesty is a grant of pardon, especially for those who committed political crimes. It is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the offense. The word has the same root as amnesia. Amnesty is more and more used to express “freedom” and the time when prisoners can go free.
On this as basis, the question is: why did the Aquino administration still require those officers, enlisted men and civilians charged for involvement in three failed coups—the July 2003 mutiny at Oakwood, the February 2006 stand-off at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio and the November 2007 siege of the Manila Peninsula to admit their guilt before granting them amnesty, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 75? Does not the grant automatically restore all their rights, including political, as if they are like newborn babies? It is hard to imagine that pardoned criminals including the hardened ones like priest-killer Norberto Manero, known to many as Commander Bukay, are not required to admit their guilt. Why make it more difficult for these “principled” military men and officers who have rebelled against the government? Is this not an instance of selective justice, contrary to the norms of international law and conventions?
In boxing when the opponent is downed, any punch is prohibited. Those charged with rebellion were already incarcerated behind bars for as long as 20 years, why increase their agony by making them swallow their principles. Where is the real sense of justice? This is too much!
Truth is that availing of the amnesty grant is a pragmatic reprieve for those already behind bars; without which, they know of no way to ease their agony – or to escape. It may not be fully congruent to their principles, but they will surely moralize, as in the case of Marine Staff Sgt. Francisco Bosi Jr., who said that he has no problem complying with the DND’s requirement that he has to admit that his participation in the uprisings violated the Constitution and the country’s laws as well as military’s laws, and that he has to give a narration of his participation.
“Why should I be afraid when I did not do anything bad. I have many lessons learned from this experience but I do not regret anything,” he added.
Even without their confession, chances are that these chastised military men will not trouble the government anymore. They may still have retained some or all of their principles or idealism that incited or motivated them to take part in the rebellion, but even the physical consideration alone they may never attempt at all to topple the government. On the contrary, they might be of full use to the government this time.
Does not the Aquino government see this? Or it finds fulfillment in letting a downed man ask for forgiveness with bended knees.