Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Danny Lim Speaks about Amnesty

Press Statement of Brigadier General Danilo D. Lim (Ret) Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation


THE most common misconception about amnesty is that it encourages military uprisings. This is untrue. But it stems from the erroneous belief that those who participated in 1987 and 1989 were merely subjected to pushups as punishment. It is easy to believe these mistakes because the truth is much harder to confront.

The participants were detained, many of us in common prisons. Our pay and allowances were cut off and our families starved. We were detained for three years; the others more than five years and many were removed from the service. While amnesty did reinstate our duty status, it was at a cost. Despite the amnesty, there were no promotions for so long, nor any extra considerations. We were pariahs in the institution we loved and continue to love.

The pushups that the public saw, was only one of a string of humiliations. But it was one never complained about.

Despite that, many of the participants who did return to the service ended up distinguishing themselves and continued – some still continue – to serve their country faithfully and well.

Ret. Brig. Gen. Danilo D. Lim
The participants of the Oakwood incident were incarcerated for five years. Those that remain have been in jail for seven years. The accused for the events of February 2006 had been detained for more than four years before being released into the custody of ranking officers of their respective services. In both instances there were officers who were subjected to physical and mental cruelty beyond the acceptable limits of the law.

Under no circumstances can it be said that the participants and accused are merely being given a “slap on the wrist.” These officers have endured much pain, humiliation, deprivation, all in the belief that what they have done, they did to serve the best interests of their country, in accordance with their oath of service.

These untruths must not be allowed to pervade the amnesty provisions for nearly 300 officers and men who are accused of participating in various alleged uprisings. They do a disservice to the AFP and to the country to continue to subscribe to these falsehoods.

Uprisings do not happen in a vacuum. They happen in situations of social unrest and injustice. Issues like a stolen election, massive graft, the killing and oppression of Filipinos; these are real issues that helped propel dissatisfaction in the ranks of the AFP. When movements such as those being considered in Proclamation 50 occur, the idea of exoneration for subsequent charges does not enter the mind of the participant – the only consideration is the righting of wrongs and the institution of justice.

To say that amnesty alone encourages military uprisings exonerates government officials directly responsible for creating the wrongs that the officers felt compelled to address.

It is too easy an excuse to lay the blame for the country’s ills on what we had done to protect the country’s interests, because the officers can be removed and sent away into oblivion, away from a public who can believe them, away from any opportunity to rectify society’s wrongs, away from the service of one’s people, while those responsible for the injustice continue to occupy positions of power and continue to benefit from their ill gotten gains.

Finally, a word about Proclamation 50: While the grant of amnesty is welcome, it appears that the provisions for forced resignation are too onerous. Those who will be compelled to resign are those officers still undergoing trial who are still in the service. The irony here is that these gentlemen have not yet been proven guilty of any crime or violation of the Articles of War. For them to avail of amnesty therefore, would amount to a punishment for a crime for which they have not been convicted.

Yes, I understand the nature of amnesty that it can be given to those still undergoing trial. And yet it still is wrong, in this instance, to ask these officers to resign. It is as though this government seeks the shortest route to their removal regardless of their participation, regardless of their liability. The amnesty too, is tied to the timetable provided so that the officers are compelled to choose one remedy.

We cannot be faulted therefore for believing that this entire offer falls short. The impetus to any and all of the actions alleged to be undertaken has been a fierce love for our country. The impetus for the commission of the crimes of the previous administration has been greed for power and money. Yet looking at these two groups, it isn’t difficult to spot the injustice. We did what many of our countrymen want done, but are not willing to do it themselves.




Lim, Danilo P. Statement of Brigadier General Danilo D. Lim (Ret) Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation. http://dannylim.org/?p=1357

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