MANILA, Philippines — To prove that he could no longer be subjected to court martial and arrested by the militay nor could charges against him be revived, Senator Antonio Trillanes on Wednesday provided documents that showed his dismissal from military service.
Trillanes disputed claims made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that after President Rodrigo Duterte revoked his amnesty on Tuesday, he returned back to being a soldier, and therefore, is subject to a court martial and not legal proceedings.
“The Armed Forces is saying that that because of the revocation of the amnesty, therefore, I am still a soldier, that’s their contention,” Trillanes said before members of the media.
“I have with me my original clearance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, signed by different officials, stating that I can be separated from the service,” the senator claimed. “These documents would prove that I am already separated effective August of 2007.”
He also said that no court hearings about his previous cases should push through, since the cases have been dismissed, and the amnesty granted was done in concurrence with Congress.
In a proclamation on Tuesday, Malacañang voided the amnesty granted to Trillanes by former President Benigno Aquino III. Since then, the senator has been allowed to stay within the Senate premises to avoid arrest, as per the privileges of a legislator while Congress is in session.
“The assurance of the Senate President is that for as long as I am here inside the Senate premises, he will not allow any arrest,” he said on Tuesday.
Trillanes, a former Lieutenant Sergeant of the Navy when they staged the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, also made light of AFP Spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo’s assertion that he should be tried by a military court, which is already being convened.
“If they insist that I am still a soldier, then I should receive a payback of my salary since 2007,” he said.
On a more serious note, the two-term senator asked the AFP to do their job well, to avoid making the wrong statement in public.
“I suggested to my upperclassman, Colonel Arevalo, to step up, study your documents, research, so that there would be no mistakes in public pronouncements,” he added.
Critics of the administration, from lawyers, lawmakers, up to Vice President Leni Robredo have denounced the actions of Malacañang, saying that it is just an attempt to silence critics.
“What happened to Senator Trillanes, it has been done to Senator Leila de Lima, to (former) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno… we will do everything to prevent this kind of persecution to silence what we have to say,” Robredo told reporters in Zamboanga City on Wednesday.
“It is important in a democracy to have critics, especially if there is something wrong and something to disagree with. If they try to silence us, it would not be effective since we would just voice our concerns louder,” she added.
For fellow Senator Bam Aquino who was with Robredo in Zamboanga, whoever advised the president should be fired for providing misleading information.
“If I were the president, I would fire whoever suggested the creation of the proclamation, because it was erroneous,” Aquino said.
“They said that there was no application, but footage from the media showed that there was an application, and he took an oath,” he claimed.
In an interview with Col. Arevalo, it was revealed that Solicitor General Jose Calida initiated the review of Trillanes’ amnesty requirements, by looking for the records in the AFP’s J-1 section.
Witnesses to Trillanes
For fellow mutineer and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, the allegations against Trillanes that he did not admit the crimes they committed is unfounded as he was also there when they submitted the petition for amnesty to the House of Representatives.
“We filed the application for the amnesty, which was processed by a certain committee, I was there,” Alejano said during a forum on Wednesday.
According to the lawmaker, Duterte could have explored other ‘easier’ options to arrest Trillanes, aside from a baseless and illegal arrest order.
“If they want to jail Trillanes, it would be easy. If only President Duterte signed the waiver and he proves that Trillanes is lying, he would immediately enter a jail facility and resign as senator,” the ex-Marine said, referring to Trillanes’ dare of waiving bank secrecy laws. (davaotoday.com)