President Rodrigo Duterte has voided the amnesty granted in 2010 to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over his involvement in coup attempts against the Arroyo administration. The proclamation negating Trillanes’ amnesty came as President Duterte was about to depart for a visit to Israel.
Trillanes, a former Navy officer, has failed to comply with the minimum requirements necessary to qualify for the amnesty program. This is per the Presidential Proclamation No. 572 which President Duterte signed to declare as “void ab initio”, or void from the beginning, the senator’s amnesty. Trillanes wass granted the amnesty by the Aquino administration.
The proclamation is dated August 31, as confirmed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. Guevarra is the designated government caretaker when the President is abroad. Following Israel, President Duterte will visit Jordan.
The implications of Presidential Proclamation No. 572 are that Senator Trillanes can now be arrested on the strength of a warrant issued against him by a Makati court. The warrant was given before Trillanes was granted amnesty. Because of the voiding, the warrant will no longer be stayed and can now be executed, as ordered by President Duterte.
“There must be formal filing of application and there must be an expressed admission of guilt on the crime charged for you to be eligible for amnesty. Based on the review taken, he did not comply with these requirements,” Guevarra said at a press conference.
The DOJ chief further explained that the proclamation acts to treat the amnesty as if it had never existed, not as if it had been revoked.
President Duterte has since called for the arrest of Trillanes.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are ordered to employ all lawful means to apprehend former LTSG Antonio Trillanes so that he can be recommitted to the detention facility where he had been incarcerated for him to stand trial for the crimes he is charged with,” read the proclamation.
The decision to grant Trillanes amnesty was by an ad hoc committee in the defense department and ultimately approved by then defense chief Voltaire Gazmin in 2010. At the time, Trillanes was a junior Navy officer. Along with other fellow officers, Trillanes took over Makati city properties Oakwood Premier serviced residences in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula in 2007 to force the ousting of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who they accused of election fraud and corruption.
Current DOJ chief Guevarra said that the amnesty granted Trillanes for his actions by then president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in 2010 does not have a proscription period.
“The matter of taking a look on whether an amnesty granted is valid or not is something that can be done at any time because, as you may probably have seen from the proclamation, if it’s declared to be void, that grant of amnesty is declared to be void, it can be attacked at any time because it’s void,” he said.
“The matter of timing is irrelevant, there is no time element or prescriptive period as we call it in legal parlance, for something to be attacked if from the beginning it is void,” Guevarra addded.
President Duterte said in his proclamation that Trillanes failed to express guilt over crimes he had committed, thus failing to comply with some minimum requirements for his amnesty grant.