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G.R. No. L-18184 – 7 SCRA 152 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Amnesty – Reversal of the Doctrine Held in the Barrioquinto Case – Admission of Guilt Necessary in Amnesty
Vera, together with 92 others were charged for the crime of kidnapping with murder done against a certain Lozanes. The said crime was committed allegedly to aid the Japanese occupation. During the hearing, none of the petitioners-defendants admitted having committed the crime charged. In fact, Gaudencio Vera, the only defendant who took the witness stand, instead of admitting the killing of the deceased Lozanes, categorically denied it. Hence, the Amnesty Commission held that it could not take cognizance of the case, on the ground that the benefits of the Amnesty Proclamation, could be invoked only by defendants in a criminal case who, admitting the commission of the crime, plead that said commission was in pursuance of the resistance movement and perpetrated against persons who aided the enemy during the Japanese occupation. Consequently, the Commission ordered that the case be remanded to the court of origin for trial.
ISSUE: Whether or not the accused can avail of amnesty sans admission of guilt.
HELD: It is rank inconsistency for appellant to justify an act, or seek forgiveness for an act which, according to him, he has not committed. Amnesty presupposes the commission of a crime, and when an accused maintains that he has not committed a crime, he cannot have any use for amnesty. Where an amnesty proclamation imposes certain conditions, as in this case, it is incumbent upon the accused to prove the existence of such conditions. 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. The present rule requires a previous admission of guilt since a person would not need the benefit of amnesty unless he was, to begin with, guilty of the offense covered by the proclamation.