Trillanes faces arrest as Duterte voids his amnesty

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — The justice department on Tuesday filed for a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes after President Rodrigo Duterte voided the amnesty granted to him in 2011 for trying to topple the government over a decade ago.

It also asked a Makati court to issue a hold departure order against the senator.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the police and military must obey Duterte's order to arrest Trillanes because his amnesty was found to be void from the beginning.

Once arrested, the former naval officer would be sent back to the jail where  was detained prior to the granting of amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino III.

In an ambush interview in the Senate, Trillanes called the order "stupid" and accused Solicitor General Jose Calida as orchestrating the move which had "no basis."

"Si Calida gumawa nito. Gustong-gusto ng amo niyang si Duterte. Makikita niyo gaano ka-duwag si Duterte. Tira ito ng takot... Itong si Mr Duterte ay isang diktador. Kritiko ikukulong," the Senator said.

"Hindi ako tatahimik. Lalo akong gaganahan... Mr. Duterte, hindi ako takot sayo. Darating din ang araw mo, Mr. Duterte."

Just the same, Trillanes said he was ready to face arrest.

"Kung ipapa-aresto, eh 'di sasama ako... Hindi ako magtatago, definitely... I will not resist arrest. I will not escape," he declared.

READ: Trillanes, officials decry 'political persecution' in voiding of amnesty  

Trillanes said he would stay in the Senate while his lawyers studied what legal steps to take. Senators agreed to place the lawmaker under the custody of Senate President Tito Sotto, who vowed not to allow an arrest within the Senate premises.

Duterte signed Proclamation Order No. 572 on August 31.  It covered only Trillanes and excluded other individuals granted amnesty for committing similar acts. 

The order 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.

Trillanes denied this, insisting that he wouldn't have received immunity if he failed to file necessary papers. He said Duterte's move was a "clear case of political persecution."

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, a lawyer, said amnesty should not be revoked because the President would not have granted it without all the requirements and the approval of Congress.

"Kung minsan ka nang nagbigay ng amnesty at tinanggap mo ito, dapat po ay tapos na yan," he stressed. 

But Guevarra said there are no records of Trillanes' supposed application for amnesty and he dared the senator to show proof.

Trillanes provided the evidence in a privilege speech in the afternoon. Before his colleagues in the chamber, the senator showed pictures of his amnesty application, his certificate of amnesty, and a video where he admitted to his guilt.

During the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Trillanes was involved in three coup attempts: the so-called Oakwood mutiny in July 2003, the Marines stand-off in February 2006, and the Manila Peninsula incident in 2007.

Rep. Gary Alejano, who is a member the Magdalo group like Trillanes, backed the senator.

"Paano bibigyan ng amnestiya kung hindi kami nag-comply sa application? Gobyerno ang humahawak ng records. Pwede nilang hindi hanapin o iwala. There was an admission of guilt kasi kasama 'yan sa checklist," the congressman said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the amnesty was given as a political accommodation of the previous administration, saying it was granted on a silver platter.

"The amnesty granted to him was political. He was friendly with the previous administration. That's why he was granted amnesty without compliance with the requirements set by law.  Yung mga panahon na iyon, naswerte lang siya na kakampi niya yung dating presidente, at hindi na naginsist doon sa literal compliance with the provisions for the amnesty," he said in a media briefing in Israel.

Guevarra said the order was final, but Trillanes could appeal it. He also said the senator could be arrested since he did not have immunity in this case which was "not a judicial matter."

Calida said there was no need for a congressional concurrence in this case, but constitutional law professor Tony La Viña said an amnesty could be voided by a unilateral act of the President.

"It's unilateral without any factual  determination for the revocation of an amnesty," he told CNN Philippines.

Guevarra denied the President's order harassment and intended to silence Trillanes, one of Duterte's staunchest critics. He said the review of the amnesty was discussed as far back as 2013. He said it might have been reviewed by the Office of the Solicitor General, but it was unclear to him if it was Calida himself who conducted the review.