SENATOR Antonio F. Trillanes IV on Tuesday afternoon posted a P200,000-bail before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 after his arrest at the Senate.
Mr. Trillanes’s rebellion charge was effectively reinstated after President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Aug. 31 invalidated the former mutineer’s 2011 amnesty in connection with the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, 2006 Marine Standoff, and 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege, after allegedly failing to file an application showing his admission of guilt.
“Natalo po ang demokrasya sa araw na ito (Democracy died today),” the Senator told the media yesterday shortly after news broke out that the trial court hearing his rebellion case approved the Justice department’s request of a warrant of arrest and hold-departure order against the senator.
Mr. Trillanes added: “Pinakita na namin lahat ng ebidensya kontra sa kanilang mga kadahilanan. Pero nilabas pa rin itong warant of arrest na ito.” (We showed all the evidence against their [basis to invalidate my amnesty]. But still they issued this warrant of arrest.”
“Binigyan ako ng amnesty, pitong taon na ang nakalipas. Ito ay maliwanag na pang-iipit ni Duterte sa mga kritiko niya sa politika,” he also said. (I was granted amnesty, in effect for seven years. This clearly shows Duterte’s harassment of his political critics.)
Trillanes is the second senator critical of Duterte’s drug war to be detained. Leila de Lima has been behind bars since February 2017 on charges she says were concocted to silence her.
Ms. De Lima was detained over her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison illegal drugs trade when she was still justice secretary in the previous administration. Her supporters, including not a few in the international community, say she is being persecuted for being critical of Mr. Duterte’s drug war.
Ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, also a critic of Mr. Duterte, was unseated from the Supreme Court in June for failing to fully declare the required financial statements when she applied for the post.
Mr. Trillanes returned to the Senate later that day after posting bail.
In his order, Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo M. Alameda set initial presentation of prosecution evidence on Nov. 21, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
Mr. Alameda said the Court is “morally convinced of the sufficiency and legality” of Proclamation No. 572, voiding Mr. Trillanes’s amnesty, as the Aug. 30, 2018 Certification signed by Lt. Col. Thea Joan N. Andrade confirms the claim that the Senator did not file his application form.
“As can readily be gleaned from the answers given by the counsel of Sen. Trillanes it has now become glaringly clear that Sen. Trillanes failed to substantiate his claim that he filed his application for amnesty,” the order read.
The order also read: “Since Sen. Trillanes cannot produce the copy of the official application form for amnesty which he purportedly filed with the DND Amnesty Committee containing the admission of guilt expressly made, it can be safely stated here that Sen. Trillanes failed to comply with the minimum requirement of expressly admitting his guilt for the offenses committed during the Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula incident,” it read.
In 2011, Branch 150 dismissed Mr. Trillanes’s rebellion case in connection with his involvement in the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege, after then President Benigno S.C. Aquino III granted amnesty for him and other mutineers.
Mr.Trillanes also has a pending case at the Makati RTC Branch 148 over his coup d’etat case for his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said in a statement: “The issuance of warrant to arrest Senator Trillanes based on Proclamation No. 572 is an assault to the whole Philippine justice system. Humantong na tayo sa punto na mismong mga korte natin ay nagiging kasangkapan na ng administrasyong Duterte upang gipitin ang mga kalaban sa pulitika (We have reached the point where our courts are used as an instrument by the Duterte administration to corner his political enemies).”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. for his part said: “The court has spoken. As the President has said, we will respect the decision of the judiciary.” He added: “Whatever Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has to say can be addressed to the court. Let us stop the drama by press con and allow the legal process to take its course.”
In its statement, advocacy group Human Rights Watch said in part: “The arrest today of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is part of the persecution of critics of the Duterte administration, the latest in the relentless campaign to silence those who dared to challenge the president’s murderous ‘drug war.’”
The group also said, “Senator Trillanes has proven to be the biggest thorn in the side of President Duterte.” — reports by Elijah Joseph C Tubayan, Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Arjay L. Balinbin, and AFP