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AFP can now court-martial Trillanes after arrest warrant issuance

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By Genalyn Kabiling

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could now reconvene a general court-martial to try Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for his past military offenses, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV
(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Panelo issued the statement after the Makati regional court ordered the arrest of the former rebel soldier in connection with a rebellion case. Trillanes, whose amnesty has been revoked by President Duterte, has posted bail to secure his temporary freedom.

“Hindi ba sinabi ng AFP, kung walang warrant ay hindi sila gagalaw. Ngayon may warrant, siguro ay puwede na nilang i-reconvene iyong kanilang (court martial) [Didn’t the AFP say if there is no warrant, they will not move. Now that there is a warrant, maybe they can reconvene their (court martial)],” he said in a radio interview when asked if the military can arrest Trillanes to face court martial proceeding.

Panelo, however, deferred to the military to decide on the possible military trial of Trillanes, saying he was not the proper person to respond to the matter.

Early this month, the military decided to hold in abeyance the general court-martial proceedings against Trillanes pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the legality of the presntial proclamation that revoked his amnesty. Trillanes, a former naval officer, earlier asked the Supreme Court to nullify President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 that voided his amnesty for two coup attempts years ago.

Under the proclamation, the President ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “to pursue all criminal and administrative cases” against Trillanes in relation to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Peninsula Manila hotel siege. The police and the military have also been directed “to employ all lawful means to apprehend” Trillanes so he can stand trial for crimes he is charged with.

Panelo, meantime, urged Trillanes to “face the music,” saying the senator has a chance to clear his name in court.

He also denied Trillanes’ claim that’ democracy has died after his rebellion case was revived in court, saying he was actually being given due process.

“The living proof that democracy is alive is Trillanes himself. Look what he is doing, he is maligning the government and nandiyan pa rin siya,” he said.

“Kung walang demokrasya dito, di either na-salvage na iyan, nakulong na iyan o pinatay na iyan ‘di ba? Hindi totoo kasi nandyan pa rin siya [If there is no democracy, he could have been salvaged, jailed or killed right? It’s not true because he is still there],” he said.

Panelo noted that the law of karma has merely caught up with Trillanes, who has used his position to malign people including the President.

“He has been accusing falsely a lot of people especially the President. He’s been planting seeds of hate, seeds of sedition,” he said. “Kaya ayun, kinakarma siya ngayon,” he added.

Now that the court was hearing the rebellion case against him, Panelo said Trillanes should focus on preparing his defense strategy.

He said Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati RTC Branch 150, who issued the arrest warrant against Trillanes for the 2007 Manila Peninsula hotel siege, was “known for his independence and probity.”

He said this is the same judge who convicted suspected pork barrel queen Janet Napoles for serious illegal detention charges. “Maganda ang record niya; hindi mo siya maiimpluwensiya. So hayaan na natin ang court [His record is good. You cannot influence him so let the court decide],” he said.

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