Trillanes faces Guevarra after amnesty row: DOJ must have courage to say no
MANILA, Philippines – Facing each other for the first time since the heated amnesty row, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV reminded Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra of the power the Department of Justice (DOJ) wields and asked him not to allow the agency to be used for political persecution.
“Your department is very powerful. You can be an instrument in dispensing justice. Sadly, in the wrong hands it can be used also as an instrument of injustice,” Trillanes told Guevarra on Wednesday, October 3, during the Senate hearing on the proposed 2019 budget of the DOJ.
Trillanes also called on Guevarra and other justice officials to stand up for what is right and true.
“'Pag nakita nyong 'di tama yan (If you see something is wrong), you will have to say no," Trillanes said. "It takes a lot of moral courage to do that. But until you will be able to do so, ganito lang tayo (we will just be like this). We will forever be a developing country,” he added.
Guevarra was first appointed to government by the previous Aquino administration, as deputy executive secretary for legal affairs. (READ: Who is new justice chief Menardo Guevarra?)
Under President Rodrigo Duterte, he remained at the executive secretary's office until he replaced Vitaliano Aguirre II, the first justice secretary of the Duterte administration who was linked to various scandals and was forced to quit last April.
One of Guevarra's first decisions as justice secretary was to revamp the department.
“I hope Secretary Guevarra, you’re in a position to start. Maganda yung panimula ninyo eh," Trillanes said. "And ano yan, kayo yung magiging sandigan nung mga nasa ilalim sa iyo. They can start saying no kung yung taas alam nila protektado sila. Like all past administrations, temporary lahat [ito] (You were off to a good start. Those under you will lean on you. They can start saying no if they know that the officials will protect them. Like all administrations, this is just temporary),” Trillanes said.
The opposition senator also brought up Duterte’s order voiding the amnesty granted to him in 2011, and assured Guevarra and other officials that he would not be “vindictive.” (READ: Trillanes vows to run after Guevarra, Calida, DND officials over amnesty issue)
“I hope in the remaining years of the Duterte administration, maging ehemplo ang DOJ (the DOJ will serve as an example). What's done is done, yung nangyari sa akin ngayon (what was done to me) – I can be put away, imprisoned or be in detention without bail for a missing application form. In any definition of justice, talagang wala yun. But sige na (fine), let me be the last casualty for that,” Trillanes said.
“Yung mga ordinary na tao I can imagine mas mahirap yung pinagdadaanan (I can imagine how hard it is for ordinary people). So I hope you can give your word Sec Guevarra [that] the injustice stops with me. Ako na ang huling (Let me be the last) casualty,” he added.
In response, Guevarra said he agrees with Trillanes that the DOJ indeed “should not be a weapon to persecute political opponents.” Guevarra also assured Trillanes that the DOJ would “live up to its name.”
“Since the time that I assumed office as Secretary of Justice, I have always made it a point for the department to observe the rule of law and base all of its actions on available evidence and nothing else,” Guevarra said.
“We assure the senator that the DOJ will live up to its name of being the administrator of justice to everyone. That's all I can say,” he added.
Following Duterte’s Proclamation 572, it was the DOJ that filed motions seeking arrest warrants and a hold departure order against Trillanes for charges connected to the failed coup attempts led by the former mutineer in 2003 and 2007.
Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 issued a warrant against Trillanes, who immediately posted a P200,000 bail.
Makati RTC Branch 148, meanwhile, deferred the decision and set a hearing on Friday, October 5. – Rappler.com