Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, September 11, rendered the amnesty grant of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV invalid because he claimed that it was signed by then Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
“So that an act of pardon, an act of amnesty is always an act of state, which cannot be done by a mere cabinet member,” Duterte emphasized.
Duterte said that the amnesty granted to military rebels like Trillanes should be solely dependent to the highest-ranking executive official. He expressed the magnitude of Trillanes’ offense in a televised interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
“Look, why? You know because the action now taken against him by way of a criminal complaint is a very serious one, rebellion. Had it succeeded, it could have overthrown the government,” Duterte stated.
However, this excuse was not indicated in the leader’s Proclamation 572 that revokes the said amnesty. The reason behind the said revocation stated that Trillanes failed to comply with the application requirements thus ordering his immediate arrest and travel ban.
The Magdalo mutineer denied the accusation that it was only Gazmin who signed his amnesty grant and not former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. He discussed with reporters that Duterte was so insecure because there are soldiers siding with the senator despite what the president did to them, specifically doubling up their salaries.
The president also denied the accusations that he is doing this to Trillanes as a way to show his critics that he can silence them.
“The fact that they are doing it every day only goes to show that I am giving them the time of their lives to just talk and talk and talk,” Duterte added.
SC junks TRO on Proclamation 572
Trillanes also doubted the legality of Proclamation 572 so he sought out the Supreme Court (SC) and filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the said revocation. However, on the same day, the SC junked the motion stating that the president agreed to require a warrant for Trillanes’ arrest.
“The Supreme Court has spoken. Senator Trillanes sought to restrain the implementation of the Presidential Proclamation 572. The Supreme Court denied the application for TRO,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.
Roque reiterated that Duterte will patiently await the decision of the Makati Regional Trial Court regarding the revocation of the former naval officer’s amnesty.
“There is no legal impediment but the President has previously decided that he will await the action of the regional trial court but I do not want to preempt the President on whatever position he may have now. But that was the last position of the president,” Roque said.
Trillanes welcomes SC decision
Trillanes said that the initial decision from the high court was a good sign. He noted that the decision reflected that it is indeed an independent body away from the hands of the national leader.
“This is a test case and its initial decision was a welcome development because it was a show of their independence, so far, it was a carefully worded decision by the Supreme Court,” the opposition senator said.
He also stated that the SC officials could have easily disregarded the case but they did not so he believed that it shows a promising light to his camp.
“They (Supreme Court associate justices) could have dismissed the petition altogether but they knew that we presented a strong case and the proclamation of Mr. Duterte was or is badly flawed. But nonetheless, they gave him a face-saving way out,” he said.