GERONIMO NADAL

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Pardon or Amnesty?

Posted by geronimonadal on September 17, 2007

It seems to be another blockbuster movie in the making. Erap is convicted for plunder in the first instance. Jinggoy and Serapio is off the hook. Then Erap gets to be “pardoned” via the “amnesty” route. Erap is then freed to contemplate the remaining years of his life. PGMA cuts loose a political “sword of Damocles” that has threatened her rule for almost six years. As far as I am concerned, it looks like a good ending for Edsa II. At the end of the day, politics is about the art of the possible. Lahat puedeng pag-usapan. Of course, these comments are triggered by the pronouncements of Erap spokesperson Atty. Rufus Rodriguez that “former president Joseph Estrada is open to the idea of being granted amnesty, but he wants to see the ‘fine print’ of any such proposal first and wants it clear that acceptance does not signify guilt”

Now why would Erap want a “amnesty” and not a “pardon”. Well, perhaps we can start by distinguishing “pardon” and “amnesty”. Firstly, “pardon” is a private act of the President while “amnesty” is a public act which requires a Proclamation by the President and the concurrence of Congress. Thus, it will be a joint act of PGMA and Congress. Secondly, “pardon” is granted after final conviction while “amnesty” may be granted even before final judgment. Thirdly, “pardon” looks forwards and relieves the offender of the consequences of his offenses but his offense remains while “amnesty” looks backward and abolishes the offense itself as though the offender has not committed any wrong doing.

It is clear why Erap wants “amnesty” rather than “pardon”. Erap wants to regain his freedom and at the same time erase any stigma of being convicted. He wants to clear his name. Thus, amnesty, with its “cleansing” effect is the right formula. It is also clear why PGMA would rather have “amnesty” rather than “pardon”. If PGMA pardons Erap, she will be attacked by the anti-Erap forces since it is a private and personal act. However, if the amnesty route is taken, the grant (and the burden of justifying it to the people) is going to be shared by her and Congress. The criticisms and attacks would be diffused and also, aren’t the congressmen and senators the representatives of the people?

The question for the Filipino then is: are we ready to look the other way, grant Erap the privilege of declaring that he is innocent, not having committed any crime or offense, so that we can have some modicum of peace and stability in our country? Kaya na ba natin ito?, Talikuran at lunukin lahat ng sinabi natin, lahat na ginagawa natin, kasama ang pagpapatalsik kay Erap, para lang mapayapa ang ating bayan at maghilum ang malalim na hidwaan panlipunan. Kaya na ba natin?

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2 Responses to “Pardon or Amnesty?”

  1. selvo said

    nice blog you have here.

    first of all i do not think Erap will be interested in the amnesty or pardon from GMA. First of all because it will imply an admission of guilt. A pardon from the president who benefited from his ouster will be unacceptable especially if this president is also tainted with crimes that are far more greater than his.

    The dividing line among Filipinos these days is no longer our positions on Erap. Neither is it about our positions vis-a-vis GMA. That a great majority want GMA out of Malakanyang is no longer debatable, Filipinos are now divided how we exact accountability from GMA and what will the alternatives be.

  2. geronimonadal said

    Thanks Selvo at mabuhay ang Akbayan! I agree that there is almost a unanimous consensus that the faster we get rid of GMA the better. Tama ka rin that the debate among pundits and political groups is going the direction of “how do we exact accountability from GMA”. Puede kayang mabago ang pag-iisip na yan? I believe that an “exacting accountability” agenda post 2010 would lead us again to that trap which has held hostage our country for so many years. A trap of endless litigation, witch hunt, exposes, and the resulting economic and political instability. “Exacting accountability” is not a new thing. After people power 1, “exacting accountability” from the Marcos’ was an over-arching theme. We have yet to see any closure and resolution to that. When FVR came, “exacting accountability” from the so-called “kamag-anak, inc.”, the tanjuatcos, peping, etc., was also the goal. We have yet to see closure on that too. When Erap came, “exacting acountability” from the PEA Amari deals, the Centennial Village scam, etc. was also the theme, no movement on that either. After EDSA 2, prosecuting Erap and his barkada was priority (until of course, GMA and her own ilk started amassing ill-gotten wealth and entering into shady deals). Almost 6 years had passed and we are still far from moving on as a country. What I am saying is that “exacting accountability” is an agenda not of the people. The people want jobs, shelter, food and medicine. They don’t care whether there is corruption or not as long as these things are delivered. I might even surmise that they are ready to sacrifice their political freedoms just to have their basic needs met.

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