AFP suspects 'lapses' in turnover of Trillanes' amnesty papers

MANILA, Philippines – "Nag-apply ba ako ng amnesty (Did I apply for amnesty)?"

Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked this question at least twice during the Senate delibarations on the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday, October 2, pressing top defense officials whether they initiated an internal probe to account for his missing amnesty papers.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Trillanes he was "not knowledgeable" about what happened as the processing of the former mutineer's amnesty application was done during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Carlito Galvez, meanwhile, said they had tried to reach out to the ad hoc committee which processed Trillanes' application.

Given that the committee's head, Honorio Azcueta, and the head of its secretariat Colonel Josefa Berbigal already certified Trillanes applying, Galvez offered a hypothesis.

He said the AFP suspects apparent "lapses" in handling the opposition senator's documents.

"Apparently, Sir,...there [are] some lapses, na hindi po naibaba 'yung documents sa J1.... Ang suspicion namin, Sir, ang repository ng mga dokumento na ito ay 'di naibaba sa amin sa GHQ (that the documents were not brought down to J1.... Our suspicion, Sir, the respository of the documents did not bring the documents to us in GHQ)," Galvez said.

The J1 is the AFP General Headquarter (GHQ)'s personnel division which handles papers of its staff both in-service and retired.

President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation No 572 voiding the 2011 amnesty granted to Trillanes cites the senator's supposed missing amnesty certification from J1. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte handled Trillanes fiasco from Israel, Jordan)

Trillanes has presented multiple documents from the DND itself to prove his amnesty application.

Before Trillanes could ask more questions, Senator Panfilo Lacson reminded him that they were in a budget briefing, and that there were better platforms for his questions. Lacson added, however, that he would be lenient that time and allow Trillanes to continue his questioning.

Trillanes reiterated his question to the AFP chief: "Did I apply for amnesty?"

Galvez deferred to the affidavit of Berbigal that Trillanes indeed applied. "Based po sa ano ni (Based on the testimony of) Josefa Berbigal," he said.

"So nag-apply ako, Sir (So I applied, Sir)? According to her?" Trillanes asked.

"According to her," said Galvez.

Trillanes earlier said those responsible for the supposed "loss" of his amnesty application should be held liable in court. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.