Palace, AFP differ on Trillanes amnesty, LP ‘plot’

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Senator Antonio Trillanes IV delivers a privilege speech during Aug. 30’s plenary session. -- SENATE PRIB/Alex Nuevaespaña

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. confirmed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that opposition Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV had applied for amnesty in 2011, and also denied that the embattled lawmaker and the opposition Liberal Party (LP) are in cahoots with communist rebels in a supposed Red October ouster plot against President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Malacañang and President Rodrigo R. Duterte had been asserting, on the contrary, that Mr. Trillanes did not apply for the 2011 amnesty granted to him, and that the LP is part of the alleged ouster plot against Mr. Duterte.

The Palace, however, stood by its position that Mr. Trillanes did not apply for an amnesty and by its claim that some “individual members” of the LP are working with communist insurgents to oust the President.

Mr. Galvez, during the Senate budget hearing for the Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday morning, Oct. 2, told Mr. Trillanes that “according to Colonel Josefa Berbigal,” his oath taking of the granted amnesty in 2011 “was administered at the GHQ (General Headquarters).”

Mr. Trillanes then asked, “So nag-apply ako sir, according to her?”

“According to her,” Mr. Galvez replied.

Mr. Galvez said Mr. Trillanes’s documents were not found in J1, the personnel office of the AFP-GHQ (General Headquarters), because of “some lapses.”

The AFP chief added: “All the papers [were] not brought down sa pabalik sa (back to) GHQ… So ‘yun po ‘yung nakita namin sa investigation namin, kaya po si Col. Thea [Joan] Andrade, walang nakita na sir na mga papel. Kaya nag-certify po siya na wala pong papel. Apparently ang suspicion po namin sir is ang repository ng mga dokumento hindi po naibaba po sa GHQ.” (So, that’s what we found out in our investigation, which is why Lieutenant Colonel Thea Joan Andrade [of J1] certified that there is no available copy of the document. Apparently, our suspicion is that the documents were not brought down to GHQ.)

Mr. Trillanes also asked Mr. Galvez, “Based doon sa (on the) intel report, while the CPP would like to forge a coalition, nakipag-coalition ba (did they form a coalition with the opposition), sir?”

“No,” Mr. Galvez replied.

For his part, Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, asked Mr. Galvez if any party member is involved in a coalition with the Communist Party and in the so-called Red October.

“None,” Mr. Galvez said.

In a press briefing at the Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said: “I’m sure individual members of the Liberal Party, as the President said, may be in collusion with the CPP-NPA. It could be true that there is no formal Memorandum of Agreement between the party itself and the CPP-NPA. It does not prevent leading personalities with the Liberal Party from having such collusion.”

“We are convinced that some members of the LP party, Liberal Party, are in collusion with the CPP-NPA. Now, Trillanes has made no secret that he wants to oust President Duterte and I think his language speaks for itself.”

As for Mr. Galvez’s statement on Mr. Trillanes’s amnesty, Mr. Roque said: “I do not know about that. I’m talking as a lawyer, best evidence rule. And besides, that’s in the courts and one court has said that the pictures and everything else that Senator Trillanes adduced are not enough and of course, I concur as a lawyer. Certainly, you don’t expect me to take the side of Chief Galvez who was not a lawyer over the words of a learned judge.”

He stressed that Mr. Galvez’s statement “doesn’t matter” because “he is not a lawyer.”

“Under the rules of evidence, it’s the best evidence. Before you can offer secondary evidence, you need to establish why you can’t produce original document. That is about it, because, I cannot teach his lawyers what to do. There’s actually a way of curing this, I can’t imagine why they haven’t done it. Okay? But that is their problem,” Mr. Roque said.with Camille A. Aguinaldo