By Genalyn Kabiling, Vanne Terrazola and Hannah Torregoza
President Duterte has revoked the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV by then President Benigno S. Aquino III in connection with two attempts to overthrow the Arroyo administration.
In Proclamation No. 572, the President declared the amnesty given to Trillanes in 2010 as “void ab initio” since he failed to apply for such amnesty and did not admit guilt for the crimes committed.
“The grant of amnesty to former LTSG Antonio Trillanes IV under Proclamation No. 75 is declared void ab initio because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program,” the proclamation read.
Duterte also pointed out in the proclamation that Trillanes “never expressed his guilt for the crimes that were committed on the Oakwood Mutinty and Peninsula Manila Hotel Siege.”
“Despite former LTSG Trillanes IV’s failure to apply for amnesty and refusal to admit his guilt, his name was nonetheless included among those granted amnesty pursuant to DND (Department of National Defense) Ad Hoc Committee Resolution No. 2 approved by former Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin,” it said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra supported the proclamation, saying Trillanes failed to meet the requirements to qualify for the government’s amnesty program.
“There are certain requirements for grant of amnesty, one of them is you need to apply for it. Number two, you have to admit what you have done and to be sorry for it. In other words, you have to make a confession and admit that you were wrong,” he added.
But in a privilege speech during the Senate’s session Tuesday afternoon, Trillanes presented proof that the amnesty granted to him was valid and that the charges were already dropped by the courts.
He showed before the Senate plenary a video clip of a radio report in January, 2011, when he submitted his application form before the Department of National Defense (DND) Ad Hoc Committee handling the amnesty program.
“That is the application form… That is the personal appearance,” Trillanes said while presenting the video clip showing him filing his amnesty application form in Camp Aguinaldo.
As a consequence of Trillanes’ alleged failure to comply with amnesty requirements, the President has authorized the arrest and prosecution of Trillanes for his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula Hotel siege against the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
No arrest in Senate – Sotto
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Upper Chamber will not allow Trillanes or any other senator to be arrested within its premises.
Sotto, in an interview following a meeting with Trillanes, said senators agreed that authorities should not be allowed to arrest the opposition lawmaker inside the Senate building to preserve the institution’s dignity.
“To preserve the dignity of the Senate, we have decided not to allow any senator to be arrested within Senate premises. Outside Senate premises, that’s no longer our concern but within Senate premises that is the decision of the leadership,” he said.
As of press time last night, Trillanes has decided to stay at the Senate premises.
Aside from authorizing the arrest of Trillanes, Duterte ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “to pursue all criminal and administrative cases” against the beleaguered senator in relation to the two mutinous incidents.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the AFP have also been directed “to employ all lawful means to apprehend” Trillanes“so he could be recommitted to the detention facility where he had been incarcerated for him to stand trial for the crimes he is charged with.”
‘Amnesty can’t be revoked’
But Trillanes explained that the granting of an amnesty is an act of Congress and cannot be superseded by an Executive Order.
“Hindi mo pwedeng bawiin ang amnesty. Ano ba yun? I was already subjected to that nung na-try ako tapos na dismiss. Ano ngayon, uulitin yun? Ano ba yan?Magpaturo nga sila sa mga law students (You can’t revoke an amnesty. I was already tried and the case was dismissed. So now, it will be tried again? They should seek advice from law students),” the beleaguered senator said.
The Senate minority bloc, led by Senator Franklin Drilon, backed Trillanes and questioned the legality of Proclamation No. 572, saying that the amnesty granted by the Aquino administration was valid and already ruled upon by the courts.
“I’m sorry but we strongly believe that the amnesty is valid; number two, the validity of the application of Senator Trillanes was already ruled upon by the court when the court dismissed the rebellion and coup d’etat case against Sen. Trillanes on the basis of the amnesty,” Drilon told reporters in a hastily called press conference with the latter outside his office.
DOJ seeks arrest warrant
While Duterte authorized the arrest of Trillanes, the DOJ filed Tuesday afternoon before the Makati regional trial court (RTC) a motion asking for the issuance of an alias warrant and a hold-departure order (HDO) against the senator. However, there were reports that it will take the RTC around three to four days to issue the alias arrest warrant.
Guevarra also said the DOJ will reopen the charges against Trillanes over the Oakwood mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege.
“After proper review of the records of this case, we have determined that it is something that is ripe for reopening that there are grounds to reopen the case, then the first order of the day is simply to ask the court for the issuance of an alias warrant so that the person of the accused will be brought in the custody of the court,” Guevarra told reporters.
In 2010, then President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to active and former military and policemen and their supporters involved in the Oakwood mutiny, Marines stand-off in 2006, and the Manila Peninsula incident.
Trillanes, a former Navy officer detained for seven years at the PNP custodial center pending his trial, was among the officers allowed to walk free by Aquino.
Not in amnesty list
But Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon revealed Tuesday that Trillanes was not in the list submitted by the Amnesty Commission to the court trying the coup d’etat charges.
Fadullon recalled that in 2010, Makati City RTC Branch 148 Judge Oscar Pimentel was supposed to hand down a decision on the coup d’etat case concerning the Oakwood mutiny when defense lawyers filed manifestations that all 31 accused have sought amnesty. Pimentel eventually suspended the promulgation.
Pimentel later retired and Judge Andres Soriano took over.
In 2013, Fadullon said, the court approved the list submitted by the Amnesty Commission.
“But when I looked at the records, it did not include Sen. Trillanes,” said Fadullon, referring to the list submitted by the Amnesty Commission.
Trillanes back as military
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Colonel EdgardArevalo said that President Duterte’s revocation of the amnesty granted to Trillanes in connection with two attempts to overthrow the Arroyo administration effectively brings him back to his former status as a military personnel.
“That being the case, he will again be subject of military regulation, including the Articles of War which every military personnel in the active service is supposed to be subjected,” he added.
Arevalo said even though Trillanes is already retired from the military service, he can be again subjected to court martial proceedings.
“Therefore, yung (the) court martial will have to be re-constituted kasi ‘yungibang (because the other) members ng (of the) court martial has already retired. So in which case, the acting AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison Jr., has already instructed the convening of a general court martial that shall be hearing the case of Lt. Trillanes,” he added.
The military spokesman told reporters that court martial proceedings against Trillanes was only stopped after amnesty was granted to him by then President Aquino in 2010. (With reports from Mario Casayuran, Jeffrey Damicog, Francis Wakefield)