Philippines Report

BREAKING: President Rodrigo Duterte revokes amnesty given to Senator Sonny Trillanes

The Department of Justice on Tuesday is preparing the alias warrant against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV after President Rodrigo Duterte voided the amnesty given to him in connection with  mutinies mounted by his group more than a decade ago.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said the police and military must obey the order of Duterte to arrest Trillanes because his amnesty was found to be void from its issuance in 2010. Once arrested, he will be recommitted to where he was detained prior to the granting of amnesty.

Trillanes said he is ready to face arrest.

“Kung ipapa-aresto, eh ‘di sasama ako… Hindi ako magtatago, definitely… I will not resist arrest. I will not escape,” he said in an ambush interview at the Senate.

Trillanes will stay in the Senate while his camp is exhausting all legal remedies. Senators agreed to put him under the custody of Senate President Tito Sotto, who vowed not to allow arrest within the Senate premises.

Duterte signed Proclamation Order No. 572 — which only covers Trillanes' amnesty — on August 31.

The order said the amnesty given to retired Navy officer Trillanes was void from the start because he did not comply with minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program. It said Trillanes never admitted guilt for the coup attempts and he failed to take an oath and formally apply for amnesty. He added Trillanes must explicitly admit to a coup d'etat.

“The grant of amnesty to former LTSG (Lt. Senior Grade) Antonio Trillanes IV under Proclamation 75 is declared void ab initio because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program,” the order read.

Trillanes insisted he complied with the requirements otherwise he wouldn't have received immunity in 2011 if he did not do the necessary paper work. He said he filed it in 2010.

“Hindi ako bibigyan ng amnesty kung hindi ako nag-file ng application,” he said. But Guevarra said there are no records of Trillanes' supposed application for amnesty and he dared the senator to show proof.

During the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Trillanes was involved in three mutiny attempts: Oakwood mutiny in July 2003, the Marines stand-off in February 2006, and the Manila Peninsula incident in 2007.

Trillanes and the other Magdalo soldiers involved were given amnesty by President Benigno Aquino III in November 2010 under Proclamation No. 75.

Rep. Gary Alejano, one of the Magdalo mutineers given amnesty, backed Trillanes. He said a person won't be given amnesty if they did not comply with the required checklist.

“Paano bibigyan ng amnestiya kung hindi kami nag-comply sa application? Gobyerno ang humahawak ng records. Pwede nilang hindi hanapin o iwala. There was an admission of guilt kasi kasama ‘yan sa checklist,” the solon said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the amnesty was given as a political accommodation on the part of the previous administration, adding it was handed to him on a silver platter.

The senator said his legal counsel is exhausting all efforts to nullify the “stupid” executive order.

“Walang basis at all. Hindi mo pwedeng bawiin ang amnesty,” he said.

But Guevarra said Trillanes cannot appeal or file a motion of reconsideration to reverse Duterte's order.

“No, this is not a judicial matter. This is a executive matter,” he told CNN Philippines.

Political persecution?

Trillanes said Solicitor General Jose Calida is behind the power move as the Senate was set to investigate his family's security agency. He added Duterte is backing Calida.

“It's a clear case of political persecution. Hindi ako bibigyan ng amnesty kung hindi ako nag-file ng application,” he said.

Trillanes added, “Si Calida gumawa nito. Gustong-gusto ng amo niyang si Duterte. Makikita niyo gaano ka-duwag si Duterte. Tira ito ng takot… Itong si Mr Duterte ay isang diktador. Kritiko ikukulong.”

Trillanes said he could not be silenced.

“Hindi ako tatahimik. Lalo akong gaganahan… Mr. Duterte, hindi ako takot sayo. Darating din ang araw mo, Mr. Duterte,” he said.

Guevarra denied the voiding of the amnesty was harassment to silence one of Duterte's staunchest critics. He said the review had been discussed as far back as 2013. He said it might have been reviewed by the Office of the Solicitor General, but it was unclear to him if it was SolGen Calida who conducted the review.

“If something is void, the government may attack that act anytime, as if it never existed,” he said.

Government officials said reviews for other soldiers involved in the coup attempts may be opened for review.

Trillanes has been a staunch critic of Duterte since the May 2016 polls. He previously accused then-Davao City Mayor of amassing

₱211 million deposited in the Bank of the Philippine Islands which was undeclared in Duterte's 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

He also accused Duterte's eldest son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, of involvement in the illegal drug shipment case in the Customs Bureau.

During the ambush interview, Trillanes once again challenged Duterte to sign the waiver to reveal his bank accounts.

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