Blog Lecture No. 24: Pardon and Amnesty

Ok class, time for another blog lecture…

Today, we will discuss the absolute pardon and amnesty.

Both absolute pardon and amnesty are ways to totally extinguish criminal liability (under Section 89 of the Revised Penal Code). But you may think that pardon and amnesty are the same.

No. They are different.

What is amnesty?

Amnesty is an act of grace by the Chief Executive and as a result of the grant of amnesty, the criminal liability of the offender and all the effects of the crime are completely erased. He is, so to speak, a new person (“born again” in the criminal sense). To be valid, however, Congress has to concur with the grant of amnesty.

What is absolute pardon?

Absolute pardon erases only a person’s criminal liability. It does not take away his civil liability (his liability for damages to his victim[s]). But this is the exclusive prerogative of the Chief Executive. It does not require concurrence from the legislature…

What is conditional pardon?

Simply put, it is a grant of pardon subject to the fulfillment of a condition or an obligation. Conditional pardon is, in a sense, a contract between the government and a recipient of the conditional pardon. On the strength of such pardon, a prisoner is set free and shall enjoy freedom as long as he does not violate any condition of his pardon.

This does not completely extinguish his criminal liability because, as stated, it is conditional…

Any other difference between amnesty and absolute pardon?

As a general rule, amnesty is granted to a group of persons (such as the 1989 Mutineers) who committed political offenses while an absolute pardon is granted for any particular offense and is individual.

Also, pardon is generally given after final judgment (but not always the case) while amnesty may be given even before starting prosecution (even when those liable are at large).

So what can VP Noli give PGMA?

Absolute pardon. Prior conviction is not a hard and fast rule.

(This lecture is lifted, though not verbatim, from Criminal Law by Kapunan (+) and Faylona, Phoenix Press, 1990)

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