Time for another blog lecture:
Why is pardon and amnesty important?
Because they are ways where criminal liability is extinguished. As Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code states:
Article 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. – Criminal liability is totally extinguished:
1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.
2. By service of the sentence.
3. By amnesty, which completely extinguishes the penalty and all its effects.
4. By absolute pardon.
5. By prescription of the crime.
6. By prescription of the penalty.
7. By the marriage of the offended woman, as provided in Article 344 of this Code.
So what is pardon? What are the kinds?
Pardon contains what it means. It basically means forgiveness, punishment lifted and the convict is set free.
There are two kinds of pardon, namely:
1. Absolute pardon- means unconditional pardon
2. Conditional pardon- as the term implies, forgiveness with some conditions attached.
An absolute pardon, does not automatically restore the convict to his full civil and political rights, by virtue of Article 36 of the Revised Penal Code, unless the pardon order expressly restores him to such rights. (People vs. Madaraong, 160 SCRA 153 ).
A conditional pardon is essentially a contract between the convict and the government but it does not have effect until the convict accepts the conditions stated in the pardon. On the strength of such pardon, the convict is set free and enjoy liberty as long as he does not violate the conditions of such a pardon. Non-compliance with the conditions automatically revokes the pardon and the convict reverts to his previous situation, as if no pardon was given.
What is amnesty?
Amnesty is an act of grace by the Chief Executive and as a result, the criminal liability and all the effects are completely obliterated. But for this grant, the concurrence of congress is required.
What is the difference between amnesty and pardon?
Amnesty requires concurrence of the legislature while pardon is the exclusive prerogative of the President.
As a general rule, amnesty is given to a group of persons, usually for political offenses while pardon is granted to a particular convict, for a particular crime or offense.
Pardon is granted only after final judgment while amnesty is granted at any stage of the proceedings of the prosecution of the accused.
Was the former president given absolute or conditional pardon?
He was given an absolute pardon, in the sense that there are no conditions as to his release and his continued freedom. Further, the order expressly restored his civil and political rights.
How about the forfeiture cases? Isn’t that a condition of the pardon?
Arguably, no, as that pertains to the civil aspect of the offense. When we are dealing with the criminal aspect, particularly his incarceration, the pardon is absolute and unconditional.
What about the objections of the prosecution?
Basically, the prosecution cites Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution that states:
Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment.
He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.
But in my opinion, this may not apply because the pardon was for the crime of plunder and not for an impeachable offense, though the former president was impeached for the same acts complained about in the plunder case.
This, combined with the principle of interpreting laws in favor of the accused, weighs heavily against the prosecution’s argument.