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G.R. No. L-1278 – 82 Phil. 642 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Amnesty Compared w/ Pardon – Admission Not Needed in Amnesty
Jimenez and Barrioquinto were charged for murder for the killings they made during the war. The case was proceeded against Jimenez because Barrioquinto was nowhere to be found. Jimenez was then sentenced to life imprisonment. Before the period for perfecting an appeal had expired, the defendant Jimenez became aware of Proclamation No. 8, which grants amnesty in favor of all persons who may be charged with an act penalized under the RPC in furtherance of the resistance to the enemy or against persons aiding in the war efforts of the enemy. Barrioquinto learned about the proclamation and he surfaced in order to invoke amnesty as well. However, Commissioner Fernandez of the 14th Amnesty Commission refused to process the amnesty request of the two accused because the two refused to admit to the crime as charged. Jimenez & Barrioquinto in fact said that a certain Tolentino was the one who committed the crime being charged to them.
ISSUE: Whether or not admission of guilt is necessary in amnesty.
HELD: Pardon is granted by the President and as such it is a private act which must be pleaded and proved by the person pardoned, because the courts take no notice thereof; while amnesty by Proclamation of the President with the concurrence of Congress, and it is a public act of which the courts should take judicial notice. Pardon is granted to one after conviction; while amnesty is granted to classes of persons or communities who may be guilty of political offenses, generally before or after the institution of the criminal prosecution and sometimes after conviction. Pardon looks forward and relieves the offender from the consequences of an offense of which he has been convicted, that is, it abolishes or forgives the punishment, and for that reason it does “”nor work the restoration of the rights to hold public office, or the right of suffrage, unless such rights be expressly restored by the terms of the pardon,”” and it “”in no case exempts the culprit from the payment of the civil indemnity imposed upon him by the sentence”” (art 36, RPC). While amnesty looks backward and abolishes and puts into oblivion the offense itself, it so overlooks and obliterates the offense with which he is charged that the person released by amnesty stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense.
In order to entitle a person to the benefits of the Amnesty Proclamation, it is not necessary that he should, as a condition precedent or sine qua non, admit having committed the criminal act or offense with which he is charged, and allege the amnesty as a defense; it is sufficient that the evidence, either of the complainant or the accused, shows that the offense committed comes within the terms of said Amnesty Proclamation. Hence, it is not correct to say that “”invocation of the benefits of amnesty is in the nature of a plea of confession and avoidance.”” Although the accused does not confess the imputation against him, he may be declared by the courts or the Amnesty Commissions entitled to the benefits of the amnesty. For, whether or not he admits or confesses having committed the offense with which he is charged, the Commissions should, if necessary or requested by the interested party, conduct summary hearing of the witnesses both for the complainants and the accused, on whether he has committed the offense in furtherance of the resistance to the enemy, or against persons aiding in the war efforts of the enemy, and decide whether he is entitled to the benefits of amnesty and to be “”regarded as a patriot or hero who have rendered invaluable services to the nation,”” or not, in accordance with the terms of the Amnesty Proclamation. Since the Amnesty Proclamation is a public act, the courts as well as the Amnesty Commissions created thereby should take notice of the terms of said Proclamation and apply the benefits granted therein to cases coming within their province or jurisdiction, whether pleaded or claimed by the person charged with such offenses or not, if the evidence presented shows that the accused is entitled to said benefits.