Duterte on Trillanes' amnesty: I can't refuse Calida's findings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he cannot reject Solicitor General Jose Calida's recommendations, as he revealed it was the government's top lawyer who found a flaw in the granting of amnesty to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

"'Pag sinabi ng SolGen may mali (when the SolGen says something is wrong) and this has to be corrected, I cannot refuse. He is the government lawyer," Duterte said in a press briefing in Davao City, shortly after arriving there from a trip to Israel and Jordan.

He made the statement after confirming it was Calida who conducted the research on Trillanes, saying it was similar to what he did to ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. "Ang totoo niyan ang nagresearch si Calida (The truth is Calida conducted the research). Just like kay Sereno."

Calida filed the quo warranto petition that sought Sereno's ouster. This was granted by the Supreme Court on May 11. Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, one of the eight magistrates who voted against Sereno, is now head of the Supreme Court.

Duterte said although he is a lawyer himself, he cannot argue with the government's lawyer.

"Kung ano sinabi niya doon, yun ang paniwalaan ko (I believe in whatever he says there)," he said.

Trillanes, however, said Calida wanted him jailed only because of his Senate probe on the security firm of Calida's family and its millions-worth of contracts with various government agencies.

"Bakit niya ginawa yun? Kasi siya ay iimbestigahan ko noong araw na yun," he said, referring to Tuesday, when the Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 was published in newspapers.

[Translation: "Why did he do it? Because I will investigate him that day."]

Duterte's proclamation declares Trillanes' amnesty void from the beginning because of failure to comply with the requirements.

Critics said this is the government's latest attack on those who oppose Duterte. Malacañang has denied going after the President's critics even after the detention of Senator Leila de Lima and the ouster of Sereno, who both opposed some of the President's policies.

Trillanes is a staunch critic of the administration, who has alleged that the presidential family has millions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth. This is a claim Malacañang has repeatedly denied.