File photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Other certificates of amnesty signed only by former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin may now be questioned, following President Rodrigo Duterte's reasoning, Malacañang said on Monday, September 10.
"If the President's theory is correct, then similarly situated indivduals would have similar amnesties which could be declared as null and void ab initio. But right now the only one being invoked as null and void ab initio is that of Senator Trillanes," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque during a Palace news briefing.
However, he clarified that a proclamation similar to Proclamation 572 voiding Trillanes' amnesty specifically is needed.
"There has to be a declaration that it is null and void ab initio. Without that declaration, then I suppose it remains valid," said Roque.
Last Saturday, Duterte said the fact that it was only Gazmin who signed Trillanes' certificate of amnesty renders it void because, for Duterte, that document should have been signed by President Benigno Aquino III himself.
Duterte had said that the power to grant amnesty "cannot be delegated" by a President to anyone else.
This was disputed by former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who said Gazmin only signed the certificate as a way of implementing Proclamation 75, where Aquino granted amnesty to all those involved in the Oakwood mutiny and Manila Peninsula siege.
Trillanes himself pointed to the "absurdity" of a president having to sign potentially thousands of amnesty certificates. Hence, such administrative tasks can be delegated to secretaries who serve as the President's alter ego.
This reasoning Duterte voiced on Saturday is "additional grounds" for voiding Trillanes' amnesty, said Roque. However, this was not cited in his Proclamation 572.
"This is additional ground he is invoking, not including the grounds being cited by Solicitor General [Jose] Calida," said Roque.
It was Calida who personally called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for documents related to Trillanes' amnesty. Trillanes earned Calida's ire by investigating the government contracts entered into by the SolGen's family business.
Malacañang, however, insisted politics did not color Duterte's proclamation.
Roque denied Duterte "targeted" Trillanes by voiding only his amnesty. He, however, admitted he is "not aware" of any future proclamations that will also cast doubt on the amnesty of other mutineers.
Duterte only came up with an order against Trillanes specifically because he was the leader of the Oakwood and Manila Peninsula incidents.
"There's a basis for distinction because Trillanes was the acknowledged leader of the Magdalo mutineers," said Roque.
Duterte, on Saturday, said he has no problem with the other mutineers, especially those serving his administration, as they are his "friends."
"Wala man akong problema sa ibang nag-coup d’état, puro kaibigan ko man 'yan. So sabi ko, bakit ko sila ipakulong?," said Duterte. (I have no problem with the others who joined coup d'etat, they are all my friends. I said, why would I have them jailed?) – Rappler.com
Follow the developments here:
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.