Groups on Trillanes arrest: Part of crackdown on gov't critics

MANILA, Philippines – Groups condemned the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, calling it a blatant political attack of President Rodrigo Duterte against the political opposition.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday, September 25, said that the arrest is just part of persecution of people deemed critics of the government.

“It’s the latest in the relentless campaign to silence those who dared to challenge the president’s murderous drug war,” Carlos Conde of HRW’s Asia Division said.  

“Trillanes's arrest today sends a chilling effect among other critics of the Duterte administration,” Conde added.  

On Tuesday, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV became the second opposition senator arrested after Senator Leila de Lima.  Both are fierce critics of Duterte.

His arrest stemmed from Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 which revoked the amnesty granted to him in connection to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege(TIMELINE: Trillanes, from mutiny to amnesty)

Groups see Trillanes' arrest as part of Duterte's crackdown on vocal critics.

US-based non-governmental organization condemned the arrest of Trillanes who they call as “one of the handful of leaders willing to aggressively confront the crisis” in the Philippines. 

“The Philippine court system failed a crucial test today and human rights may be the gravest casualty,” the group said. 

While Trillanes has told them that political prosecutions are expected, the executive director David Borden said they are “saddened that he is personally a victim.”

"It has already further mobilized the already energized Philippine opposition to Duterte, and it will also focus even greater world attention onto Duterte's crimes and depredations,” he said. 

"Whether he remains free to speak and campaign, or instead join Senator De Lima as a symbol behind bars, we will continue to support his efforts," Borden added.

The Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Tuesday granted the request of the Department of Justice to issue an arrest warrant against Trillanes for the charge of rebellion, a bailable offense. He was arrested at the Senate, but was released later after posting bail at the court.

The DOJ has also asked Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 to issue an arrest warrant against the senator, this time for a coup d'etat case, which is nonbailable.  The court had yet to decide on the DOJ motion. –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.