Trillanes stays at Senate, to question voided amnesty before Supreme Court

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will fight President Rodrigo Duterte within Senate premises.

Trillanes said his lawyers and the Senate leadership advised him to stay at the Senate building in Quezon City amid his possible arrest after the 2011 amnesty granted to him by the previous administration was invalidated by Duterte.

"Yung instinct ko nga kahapon, sige magwawalk in na ko. But if we're going to turn ourselves in voluntarily, hindi mo na makukuwestiyon yung validity, legality ng warrantless arrest. Bakit niyo ko huhulihin nga in the first place?" Trillanes told Senate reporters in a chance interview.

[Translation: "My instinct yesterday was to walk in. But if we're going to turn ourselves in voluntarily, we can no longer question the validity and legality of this warrantless arrest. Why would you arrest me in the first place?"]

 

Arresting officers were deployed outside the Senate building Tuesday while the Justice Department asked the Makati Regional Trial Court to issue an alias warrant and hold departure order against the senator. The court has set a hearing on September 13. Trillanes said he will comment on the petition within the five-day period set by the court.

Long night at Senate

Trillanes said he and his legal counsel spent the night discussing what legal action to take, and have decided to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Wednesday against Duterte's order to void his amnesty.

"It's quite uncomfortable dito (here)… It was a long night kagabi dahil marami kaming diniscuss (last night because we discussed a lot of things," Trillanes said.

Trillanes said his camp will take the fight to the Supreme Court and question the validity of Duterte's Proclamation Order No. 572. The order, signed August 31 and published in newspapers Tuesday, said the amnesty granted to Trillanes was void from the start because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program. It said Trillanes never admitted guilt for the coup attempts, failed to take an oath and formally apply for amnesty.

"Yung presidential declaration na yun should alarm the justices of the Supreme Court," Trillanes said, expressing hopes that the High Court would be fair in its decision.

 

The Supreme Court now is headed by Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, who was recently appointed by President Duterte after the historic ouster of his "enemy," Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Did Trillanes file for amnesty?

Trillanes on Wednesday insisted he filed for amnesty and publicly admitted his guilt, as shown in a video he presented during his privilege speech on Tuesday. He also presented documents supposedly showing that the cases filed against him for rebellion over his involvement in coup attempts have been dismissed in 2011.

LOOK: Trillanes presents video of amnesty application to debunk Palace claims  

He called Duterte and his officials "incompetent" for wanting him arrested despite the absence of cases.

"I am alarmed by the level of katangahan nitong mga taong ito. Ito ang namamahala ng ating bansa. Mang-iipit na lang kayo palpak pa," he said.

[Translation: "I am alarmed by the level of stupidity of these people. They are leading our country. You fail even at harassing people."]

During the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Trillanes, a former naval officer, 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 jailed but freed under an amnesty granted in 2011 by President Benigno Aquino III.

Malacañang said the Aquino administration erred in giving Trillanes amnesty, a claim that Aquino denied in an interview with CNN Philippines Tuesday. Aquino said Trillanes filed and met the requirements for amnesty.

Lawmakers and legal experts said an amnesty cannot be revoked by the President unilaterally, noting it needs to go through proper judicial processes.