Roque on warrant of arrest: We followed rule of law, Trillanes should do the same

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Tuesday they expect nothing less from embattled Senator Antonio Trillanes IV than to abide by the rule of law.

Speaking to CNN Philippines Tuesday afternoon, Roque said, "The President was firm in Israel that he will allow the civilian court, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), to decide on the matter of issuing the warrant of arrest. And now that the RTC has issued it, we're now hoping that Senator Trillanes will likewise honor the order of the said court. We have to abide by the rule of law. We abided by it, we expect the Senator to do nothing less."

 

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation Order No. 572 on August 31, which voided the amnesty given to the senator in 2011 by then-President Benigno Aquino III.

On September 4, the Department of Justice filed for a warrant of arrest against Trillanes.

Duterte later confirmed that Solicitor General Jose Calida was one of those behind the review that invalidated the amnesty.

On September 7, Roque said the Palace would wait for the Makati court to issue an alias arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes before apprehending him.

An alias warrant was issued by Judge Elmo Alameda of Makati RTC Branch 150. Alameda was the same judge who dismissed the rebellion charges aganst the lawmaker in 2011.

However, Trillanes posted the P200,000 bail at the Makati RTC, prompting Alameda to cancel the warrant and have the police release Trillanes immediately.

In his interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the President could have had Trillanes forcibly arrested because the senator still had unresolved cases in the military tribunal, but opted to follow the lawful procedure.

"Kailangan po, lahat ng mamamayan, lalong-lalo na yung mataas ang katungkulan ay sumunod po sa proseso ng batas at galangin ang mga order ng ating hukuman," he said.

[Translation: All citizens, especially those who hold office should follow the rule of law and respect the order of the court.]

Earlier, Duterte said while he insists Trillanes's amnesty remains void, he had no interest in having him arrested.

"Nobody is interested to arrest them. The military does not have interest. I do not have interest. He can stay there as a boarder," Duterte said, adding that he told the police not to arrest Trillanes until there is an arrest warrant from the court.

Show of support

Meanwhile, some lawmakers have shown their support of Trillanes, including Vice President Leni Robredo.

Robredo went to the Senate Tuesday, just before the senator headed to the Makati RTC. Photos shared by the Office of the Vice President (OVP) showed them having a conversation, though it was not immediately clear what they were taking about.

 

Trillanes had been staying at his office at the Senate for weeks.

The OVP said Robredo was at the Senate to personally defend the budget of the Office of the Vice President when the warrant was released.

Senator Grace Poe also spoke to CNN Philippines regarding the developments of Trillanes' arrest. She said, "All of us are sympathetic to our colleague. On the other hand, it's good that there's a chance for him to bail at this time."

Poe said despite not being a lawyer, she had questions about voidance of the amnesty.

"When you receive a document, particularly a government contract or a government amnesty, then you should have full confidence that since it has the backing of Congress, that it is a document that will be respected," she said.

 

Given the developments in the case of Trillanes, Poe said all previously given amnesties could be thrown into question.

Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros also voiced their opposition of the warrant. Pangilinan said, "While we respect the Court order, we disagree with it. It is as clear as day that the revocation of grant of amnesty is illegal and an abuse of presidential powers and must be vigorously opposed."

Hontiveros said, "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes. It is a black eye for democracy and rule of law as our courts caved in to the whims of President Rodrigo Duterte."

Pressure from government?

Meanwhile, Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano believes that someone gave in to pressure from the administration about the arrest order against Trillanes.

"May bumigay sa pressure ng administration na ito. Maliwanag na [Someone gave in to the pressure from the administration. It's clear] before you can even issue a warrant, you have to go three stages back. You have to first, revive the case before you can issue a warrant of arrest. And before you can revive the case the amnesty should have to be revoked," he said Tuesday.

Alejano, however, did not elaborate on who he was referring to.

For his part, National Security Adviser Germogenes Esperon said, "On his person it will be very inconvenient for Sen. Trillanes he has been through harder times. We wish he could overcome this but we simply have to enforce the rule of law."

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos, Pia Garcia, Joyce Ilas, and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.