Gary Alejano: What if gov't burned Trillanes, Magdalo soldiers' amnesty applications?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, and company did not receive a copy of their own application forms for amnesty, Alejano maintained on Wednesday.

But even then, the opposition congressman maintained they had the valid document  that proves their application: a certificate of amnesty. The prerequisites for that were held by the government.

"Ngayon ang problema, naghahanap sila ng records na sila din ang may hawak," Alejano told CNN Philippines' The Source. "Eh kung sinunog nila? Assuming without concluding."

[Translation: They are looking for records that they are holding. Assuming but not concluding -- what if they burned them?]

The remarks come as President Rodrigo Duterte released a proclamation voiding the amnesty granted to Trillanes for military uprisings against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration.

Executive officials maintained that Trillanes never applied for amnesty, even as his application was widely reported in the media

Alejano likened the situation to the application for a valid government ID.

"[For] example, hinihingian ka ng immigration officer ng passport, e passport yung ipakita mo, hindi yung, nasaan yung application form mo?" he said.

"Pag meron ka nang certificate of amnesty, iyon ang valid."

[Translation: For example, if an immigration officer asks for your passport, you show your passport. He wouldn't ask where your application form is... If you have a certificate of amnesty, that is what is valid.]

He also clarified that proof of admission of guilt was not a separate document.

"Isa lang iyan. Yung application mo... may isang box doon na you're admitting guilt," said Alejano.

[Translation: It's just one (document). In your application... there's a box where you admit guilt.]

Alejano is one of the former soldiers who joined Trillanes in the uprisings. He said on Tuesday that the order to arrest the senator could also put him and other Magdalo soldiers at risk.

Senator Chiz Escudero on Wednesday also aired his opinion on the issue of the purported missing documents.

According to him, Malacanang should carry the burden of proving that Trillanes' government amnesty records are missing.

"May basic rule sa evidence na tinatawag na 'he who alleges must prove the same.' Ngayon kung sinasabi ng gobyerno na hindi siya nag-submit ng kumpletong requirements sila ang dapat magpatunay nun," he said.

[Translation: There's a basic rule saying that "he who alleges must prove the same." Now if the government says that Trillanes did not submit complete requirements, they should be the one proving it.]

"Sabihin na natin na nawawala pwede bang muling mag-submit si Senator Trillanes at automatically eh di valid na uli yung amnesty sa kanya," he added.

[Translation: Let's say the documents are really missing. Senator Trillanes can still submit them again, that makes the amnesty automatically valid again.]

But Escudero somehow doubts if the government has exhausted all effort to find the purported missing amnesty documents. He provided legal opinion on what should have been done by the government.

"Kelangang buksan muna yung kaso at matapos buksan yung kaso ang tanong ay kung mag-issue nga ng warrant o hindi. In the meantime may karapatan si Sen. Trillanes legally at alam ko tiyak ko alam ito ng ng kanyang mga abogado na umakyat sa korte suprema para kwestiyunin yung exec order at ganun din kwestiyunin kung sakali yung muling pagbubukas ng kaso sa lower court," he said.

[Translation: The case has to be opened first, then the question will be, will a wararnt be issued? In the mean time, Senator trillanes has the right to go to the Supreme Court to question the executive order and whether the case should be opened again at the lower court.]

Government officials also maintained that because the amnesty was nullified, Trillanes was up for arrest. The legality of that order is in question, as the senator's camp pointed out government should seek an arrest warrant from a court. Constitutional Committee member Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said the government has to seek court permission to even void an amnesty in the first place.

To prove he complied with government requirements, Trillanes on Tuesday presented a video of media coverage from when he filed his application for amnesty. The video had a shot of his application form, which was posted in a screenshot by former Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

 

Former President Benigno Aquino III also attested to the application.

This is not the first time Duterte's administration has been suspected of moving around government documents.

When Duterte declared in March that the Philippines would withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), his legal counsel said that the Rome Statute that cemented the Philippines' membership was never officially published, even as it was ratified. Communications against Duterte had been filed at the court, and the administration argued that the lack of publication meant the ICC did not have jurisdiction over the country.

At the time, netizens pointed out that the Department of Foreign Affairs online portal that documented all international agreements entered by the Philippines was down.

In 2016, the government journal Official Gazette was also slammed after the page detailing achievements of Aquino's administration was mysteriously removed.

Alejano said the order to arrest Trillanes is a move to stifle dissent against the administration.

"If they cannot be accountable to the people, then... they can always reinterpret rules and regulations and laws in the country," said Alejano.

"If you go against the government, you will likely end up like Senator [Leila] De Lima. That's Exhibit Number One. Exhibit Number Two is Chief Justice [Maria Lourdes] Sereno. And Exhibit Number Three: Senator Trillanes. So if the government can do these things to them, how much more the ordinary Filipino?"

Both De Lima and Sereno have been vocal critics of Duterte. The former is detained on what she maintains are trumped up drug charges, while the latter was unseated by her own colleagues in a highly controversial Supreme Court decision.

Trillanes has said that if the Duterte administration presents a lawful arrest warrant, he will go to pack his things and go to jail. Similarly, Alejano says he is already used to facing potential persecution from the state.

Referring to Arroyo and Duterte respectively, he added, "We've stood up against a corrupt government, now we're standing up against an abusive administration."