Duterte accuses ex-defense chief of criminal offense with Trillanes' amnesty

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said the previous administration committed the crime of usurpation of authority when it granted amnesty to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Duterte specifically accused then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who found Trillanes qualified for amnesty in 2011.

"Ito ngayon ang problema. It was Gazmin who probably was one of those who investigated the case, yung kudeta pati mutiny and rebellion at the very least. Then he recommended for the amnesty ng lahat," Duterte said in a press briefing after arriving in Davao City from his trip to Israel and Jordan.

Translation: "This is the problem. It was Gazmin who probably was one of those who investigated the case - coup d'état, mutiny, and rebellion at the very least. Then, he recommended for the amnesty of all."

"So what's the crime of Volt? Sabihin ko sayo kung ano. Usurpation of authority," Duterte said.

[Translation: "So what's the crime of Volt? I'll tell you what. Usurpation of authority."]

What is usurpation of authority?

Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code defines usurpation of authority as an act where an individual performs an action representing the government "without being lawfully entitled to do so." This is punishable with up to four years of imprisonment.

Duterte referred to the Constitution, which states only the President has the power to grant amnesty "with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress." He said in Trillanes' case, only then President Benigno Aquino III can take on the task.

Aquino, in his Proclamation No. 75 in 2010 granted amnesty to Trillanes and other mutineers, and tasked the Department of National Defense to receive and process their applications for amnesty. Gazmin, in his January 2011 letter to Aquino said 38 military officers and 53 enlisted personnel involved in mutiny attempts against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were all qualified for amnesty. Trillanes, a former naval officer, was among those involved in the Oakwood mutiny in July 2003, the Marines stand-off in February 2006, and the Manila Peninsula incident in 2007.

READ: Trillanes to Duterte: You don't control defense dept., insiders gave me documents

Duterte said what Aquino did was a violation of the Constitution.

"Mabigat kaya yan. Biro mo (That is a heavy. Just imagine) you pardon criminals in this country and you can delegate it just to somebody, just like that?" he said. "Parang ginawa nila ang gobyernong laruan (It's like making the government their toy)."

Trillanes: Duterte covering loopholes

Trillanes, however, said Aquino had the final say in the granting of his amnesty.

"Sinasabi na nga ni Presidente Aquino na valid ang amnesty, siya ang nagbigay (President Aquino said the amnesty was valid and he gave it)," Trillanes said in a press briefing at the Senate shortly after the President's speech.

He said the President was just making up excuses for the loopholes in the job done by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who initiated the review of his amnesty.

"Tinatapalan na nila yung mga butas ng ginawa ni Calida (They are covering the loopholes in what Calida did)," Trillanes said.

The soldier-turned-lawmaker is staying at the Senate building in Pasay to avoid any possible arrest, even as Malacañang said it will wait for the court to issue an alias arrest warrant before apprehending him. Duterte is also leaving it up to the Supreme Court to decide on the validity of his Proclamation No. 572, which declares that Trillanes' amnesty was void from the beginning because of failure to comply with the requirements.