Honasan on Trillanes amnesty: AFP must 'enforce, not interpret, laws'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Gregorio Honasan II, a former soldier, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should uphold the rule of law and due process in the case of opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, whose amnesty was revoked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Honasan, who was granted amnesty by former president Fidel Ramos, also told the AFP and the Department of National Defense (DND) to follow the chain of command.

"Uphold the rule of law and due process, obey the legally prescribed chain of command," Honasan said on Sunday, September 9, when asked what the AFP and the DND should do.

"Allow the legal courts, not media, to decide and rule on matters of law. Implement policy and enforce the law and not interpret it," he added.

Honasan received amnesty in 1995 after leading at least 5 failed coup attempts during former president Corazon Aquino's time.

He was also implicated in the failed Oakwood mutiny in 2003, led by Trillanes and the Magdalo group, but he strongly denied it.

According to a 2003 Newsbreak article, suspicions grew when groups supporting Honasan's planned presidential bid – the National Recovery Program (NRP) and the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Incorporated (PGBI) – were seen trying to enter the Makati hotel. Rebels were also seen distributing NRP pamphlets to reporters.

Officials had claimed that Honasan was the "kuya (older brother)" the Magdalo group was referring to in the documents seized after the mutiny.

The same article reported that Honasan reiterated in a privilege speech that he had nothing to do with the uprising and that it was just a stroke of bad "coincidences" that some events tended to link his name.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 572 revoking the amnesty granted to Trillanes by former president Benigno Aquino III, citing the senator's supposed failure to apply for amnesty and to admit his guilt. Old documents obtained by Rappler, however, show Trillanes did both.

Duterte initially ordered the AFP and the Philippine National Police to arrest Trillanes despite the senator's civilian status since 2007, 4 years before he was granted amnesty. The DND and the Department of Justice (DOJ) had said the military has jurisdiction over Trillanes.

Duterte and the military, however, later changed their tune and said they would now wait for the decision of the civilian courts. The DOJ also sought arrest warrants for Trillanes from two Makati courts, but failed to get an immediate decision. (READ: TIMELINE: Gov't gaps, retractions in voiding Trillanes amnesty)

Trillanes questioned Duterte's proclamation before the Supreme Court, as he remains holed up in his Senate office upon advice of lawyers and friends. (LOOK: Inside Trillanes' 'home' in the Senate)  Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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