MANILA, Philippines – It would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte if the amnesty grants to over 250 people involved in past uprisings with opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV would also undergo review, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Saturday, October 6.
“It is up to the President what he wants to do with the grant of amnesty to other individuals,” Guevarra said.
The justice secretary was asked about the fate of 250 other individuals who were granted amnesty in connection with their participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) employed a new strategy in getting Trillanes back in jail.
During the hearing on its motion to issue an arrest order against Trillanes before the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 on Friday, October 5, the DOJ questioned the validity of the application form of the amnesty itself.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon had even said before the court that “assuming without admitting” that Trillanes can prove he filed an application form – which is the main question in the voiding of his amnesty – the “more crucial point” is the “defective” application form.
Fadullon said the application form's section on the required admission of guillt refered to incidents only, such as the Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege, and not specific crimes like coup d'etat and rebellion.
More than 250 individuals used the same application form as Trillanes, but Fadullon denied that this would risk the amnesty of the rest. Guevarra, however, had earlier said it’s possible to review the amnesty of the other Magdalo mutineers.
“For now, the focus is on Senator Trillanes' amnesty grant,” Guevarra said on Saturday.
Fadullon also presented to the court on Friday a Department of National Defense (DND) certification that there were no minutes on the deliberations of all the applications under the amnesty grant of then president Benigno Aquino III.
Trillanes' lawyer Rey Robles called the moves of the DOJ unjust as it would risk the liberty of the individuals who had applied in good faith.
“Let’s be very clear. (President Rodrigo Duterte’s) Proclamation No. 572 pertains to Senator Trillanes only so I do not want to speculate as far as the application of others for amnesty,” Fadullon said.
For his part, Guevarra floated the option of executive clemency, which he also once floated as an option for Trillanes.
“Executive clemency involves the exercise of discretion, and the President as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief enjoys a lot of freedom in exercising this prerogative,” said Guevarra. – Rappler.com