By Genalyn Kabiling
No court warrant, no arrest.
In deference to the judicial process, President Duterte has decided to wait for the civilian court to issue a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV instead of authorizing his military arrest.
The President wanted to abide by the rule of law in the case of Trillanes during a meeting with several Cabinet members while on an official visit to Jordan, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
The impromptu Cabinet meeting was convened to tackle the administration’s position on the revocation of the amnesty granted to Trillanes for involvement in two coup attempts years ago.
“Matapos ang mahabang talakayan nagdesisyon ang Presidente na he will abide with the rule of law. Aantayin niya ang desisyon ng hukuman ng regional trial court kung sila ay mag-issue ng warrant of arrest [After a long discussion, the President decided that he will abide with the rule of law. He will wait for the decision of the regional trial court if they will issue a warrant of arrest],” Roque said during a press conference in Jordan.
“He will allow the judicial process to proceed and he will await the issuance of the appropriate warrant of arrest if there is indeed one to be issued before Senator Trillanes is arrested and apprehended,” he added.
Roque admitted that the President prefers to let the civilian court rather than military court decide on the issuance on arrest warrant against Trillanes even though it might be a longer process.
“To tell you the truth, ako mismo felt that we should ask the military court to issue a warrant of arrest. Ayaw ni Presidente. Ang gusto niya civilian courts. Talagang abide by the rule of law. Siya mismo piskal so he knows the procedures will be,” Roque said.
“He says na kahit matagal yan, let it be because that’s the rule of law,” he added.
Roque also claimed that Trillanes’ decision to make the Senate his second home was just drama since there was no arrest warrant against him yet.
“Dahil nag-aantay tayo ng desisyon ng regional trial court kung mag-i-issue ng warrant of arrest, ‘yung pananatili ni Sen. Triillanes sa Senado ay walang basehan. Drama lang siguro ‘yun. Wala naman aaresto sa kanya habang walang warrant of arrest,” he said.
The President has declared the amnesty given to Trillanes as “void ab initio” after he failed to submit an amnesty application and admit guilt for the crimes he committed.
Duterte, in Proclamation No. 572 issued last August 31, said authorities must pursue the charges against Trillanes and employ “all lawful means” to apprehend him to stand trial in connection with the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Peninsula Manila hotel siege.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked a regional trial court in Makati City to order the arrest of Trillanes. The military, on the other hand, was reportedly constituting a court martial to try Trillanes, a former naval officer, for his alleged offenses.
Trillanes has denounced the amnesty recall as a political persecution, and has asked the Supreme Court to block the President’s order.
Roque said the government has a strong case against Trillanes, insisting he fell short of meeting the requirements for the amnesty program.
He said the Palace would not be dragged into the “drama” of Trillanes. He instead challenged anew the opposition senator to present proof that he indeed has a duly received application form and admitted guilt for the past two coup attempts.
He noted that Trillanes might be critical of the President since his request to become his runningmate in the 2016 presidential elections was not granted.
He recalled that Trillanes applied to become Duterte’s vice presidential bet but at the time, the former Davao City mayor was still undecided about his political plans.
“Kung talagang evil ang ating presidente gaya ng sinasabi ni Trillanes, tanong ko sa Senator, ‘Bakit mo gusto tumakbo bilang bise presidente niya?’ [If the President is evil as alleged by Senator, may I ask the senator, ‘Why did you want to run as his vice president?’]” he asked.
Roque admitted that the President was impressed with the courage of Trillanes to die for the country in the past but was opposed to his military uprising against the government.
“Hindi naman niya kinu-consider na masama. Hinangaan ang katapangan pero hindi niya inaprubahan ang means ng paghihiwatig ng kanilang kalooban [He doesn’t consider him but. He admired his courage but he did not approve of the means to express their sentiment],” he said.