MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano condemned the revocation of the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, calling it "political persecution" of President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critic.
"Matagal na nating narinig na gusto nilang gawin 'yun. Pinag-aralan nila at maliwanag na political persecution 'yan. 'Yan ay amnesty na binigay sa lahat," said Alejano on Tuesday, September 4.
(We have long heard that they wanted to do this. They studied it and this is clearly a case of political persecution. That was amnesty given to all.)
On August 31, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 572 declaring Trillanes' amnesty "void ab initio," which means it never had a legal effect from the start. The proclamation was published in the Manila Times on Tuesday.
Duterte ordered the Department of Justice, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) "to pursue all criminal and administrative cases" against Trillanes and "employ all lawful means to apprehend" him and bring him back to jail at the PNP Custodial Center.
Trillanes led Magdalo soldiers, including Alejano, in staging the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege against the administration of then-president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Former president Benigno Aquino III signed Proclamation 75 in November 2010, granting amnesty to mutineers in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, the 2006 Marines standoff, and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege. It was concurred in by both chambers of Congress in December 2010.
Trillanes applied for amnesty in January 2011 and was in the list of officers and soldiers granted amnesty that same month.
"Imagine mo, pinublish sa (Imagine, they published it in a) newspaper. It's a clear political propaganda," said Alejano.
Why was the order given? Alejano slammed Duterte for his "clear act of revenge" against Trillanes.
"Sa aking pagkakaintindi eh 'yung dapat na basehan ng pagpapanagot sa bansa ay ‘yung present na ginawa mo. Dahil pag 'yun ay na-extinguish na in the past administration, hindi dapat binabalik-balik. Dahil kung 'yan ang ating basehan, 'yung amnesty na binigay natin nung 1960, '70s, '80s ay kayang i-revoke ng Presidente ngayon," said Alejano.
(In my understanding, one is made accountable to the country based on what you are doing at present. What you did in the past that the administration had extinguished, that cannot be invoked anymore. Because if that is the basis, the amnesty given during 1960, '70s, and '80s may be revoked by the President as well.)
"So I don't think na nararapat na gawin 'yun dahil maliwanag na paghihiganti 'yan (So I don't think what they did was right because it's a clear act of revenge)," added the soldier turned lawmaker.
Caloocan 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice also said the revocation of Trillanes' amnesty shows the government is out to persecute its critics.
"Is it now the rule that we cannot criticize government otherwise we will be persecuted? We will be transformed into a banana republic if two sitting senators, elected by the people, languish in jail simply because they are in the opposition," said Erice.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin also called Duterte's order against Trillanes "highly preposterous" and "clearly a political vendetta."
"It's a legal stretch to justify this presidential revocation of an amnesty given no less by Congress. The grounds cited by the proclamation like the non-application by Senator Trillanes of an amnesty is too flimsy and won't hold ground as former president Aquino with the concurrence of Congress made the amnesty full and complete," said Villarin in a Viber message.
Does Alejano expect his amnesty would be revoked too? Alejano is expecting he may be next.
The lawmaker is also a fierce Duterte critic and is the first person to file an impeachment complaint against the President, but this did not prosper in the Duterte-controlled House. (READ: Alejano 'ready to face consequences' after impeachment complaint)
"Sa atin ho, lahat ng puwede nilang gawin ay ine-expect ho natin. Ang problema lang ho, nagkukunwari tayo na demokrasya at lagi naming kinakapit na tayo ay demokrasya at tumatayo tayo doon," said Alejano.
(We expect everything that they can do to us. The problem here is that we still pretend that we are in a democracy and we hold on to that.)
"Dahil kung tayo ay 'di na makapagsalita at iniipit ho tayong lahat, eh wala na hong puwedeng magsalita, wala na hong puwedeng magtayo. At ang purpose ng ating pagsalita ay bigyan ng tibay ang ating demokrasya. So kung hindi na tayo makapagsalita, sino pa ang maliliit na tao ang bibigyan ng pag-asang makapagsalita?" he added.
(Because if those who speak up are being suppressed, no one else will stand up. We speak up so we can uphold our democracy. So if we don't make our voices heard, how will the ordinary people find the courage to speak up?)
What is Magdalo's next move? At the time of the interview, Alejano had not yet read Proclamation No. 572 in full or talked to Trillanes.
Alejano attended the House committee on justice's first hearing on the impeachment complaints that he and two other lawmakers filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice Teresita de Castro and 6 associate justices.
But he plans to talk to Trillanes within the day.
"Mag-usap kami ngayong araw at tignan namin ang next action ho natin (We will talk today and see what our next course of action will be)," said Alejano. – Rappler.com
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