Guevarra: Logical to start amnesty review with 'most vocal' Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday, September 26, that other amnesty grants will be reviewed or reopened following the case of the “most vocal” opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

The amnesties given to Trillanes’ fellow mutineers at the Magdalo group, in particular, are also being reviewed, said Guevarra.

“We cannot take away that risk that they're found to be deficient or non-compliant with the requirements for amnesty. Then any other person who might have not complied may suffer the same situation as Senator Trillanes,” he said.

Guevarra added, however, that in the case of the Department of Justice (DOJ), it would focus on Trillanes, for now.  He explained that it was "logical" to start with the opposition senator since he's the leader of the group.

“We’re not saying the government is picking on him, no, and being selective. Just so happened that he’s the most vocal and he’s the leader of the pack, so to speak. So, it was just natural, if not logical, to start with him,” the justice secretary said.

Acting on a DOJ request, the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 on Tuesday, September 25, ordered Trillanes arrested but the senator was allowed to immediately post bail.

Other cases

President Rodrigo Duterte anchored Proclamation No. 572, voiding the amnesty given to Trillanes, on his alleged failure to file an amnesty application form.

Solicitor General Jose Calida later raised before the Supreme Court another reason – not cited in Duterte's order – for voiding the amnesty, that it was then-defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin who signed Trillanes’ amnesty papers, and not then-president Benigno Aquino III.

Calida said the grant of amnesty cannot be delegated by the president to anyone. Aquino himself  signed Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to mutineers during the Arroyo administration.

In the same proclamation, Aquino delegated to Gazmin the processing and approval of amnesties of the specific applicants, which included Trillanes.

Duterte and Calida said what Aquino did was illegal, although 5 other presidents before Aquino also delegated the approval of amnesty applications to their designated panels or committees.

This includes the grant of amnesty to now military chief General Carlito Galvez Jr, which then-president Fidel Ramos also delegated to a committee.

Will the amnesty granted to the likes of Galvez be reviewed as well?

Not addressing the case of Galvez directly, Guevarra said the voiding of other amnesties “is a possibility I cannot preempt.”

“So, I’m not preempting them, but my understanding is that their cases might be reviewed or opened,” said Guevarra. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.