MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation voiding Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's amnesty by President Rodrigo Duterte continued to dominate headlines a day after it was published in a newspaper.
Rappler summarizes how the issue unfolded on Wednesday, September 5, as reporters were able to question the relevant courts, find more documents related to Trillanes' amnesty, and speak with more officials.
Coming in cold? Here is the summary of how the controversy developed on Tuesday, the day news of it broke.
Developments on Wednesday, September 5
Where is Trillanes now? The opposition senator remains in the Senate under the custody of Senate President Vicente Sotto III as he finds ways to challenge Duterte's order.
Will he be arrested? Not yet, since the Department of Justice failed to obtain an instant arrest warrant from Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148, the court that dealt with Trillanes' coup d'etat charges. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said they'd try again with another court, Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150. But he also said there is no need for an arrest warrant from a civil court, since, according to him and the Department of National Defense, Trillanes can also be arrested by a military court for court martial proceedings.
This would only be possible if Trillanes is a soldier. However, he retired from the military when he ran and won as senator in 2007, and is thus a civilian supposedly not covered by a military court. But the DND said that, with Duterte's proclamation voiding Trillanes' amnesty, he has been reverted to military service.
Military and police personnel went to the Senate compound early Tuesday, despite their lack of an arrest warrant for Trillanes, prompting senators to contest the "militarization" of the chamber.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
What can Trillanes do now? The Makati RTC Branch 148 gave him 5 days to challenge the DOJ's application for an arrest warrant. The senator also plans to file for a temporary restraining order against Duterte's proclamation with the Supreme Court. Lawyers see this as risky given the composition of the High Court now and its tendency to vote in favor of Duterte's policies.
Lawyers dispute Makati court jurisdiction over Trillanes case. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) asked if, in the first place, the Makati regional courts have the jurisdiction to entertain the DOJ's request for an arrest warrant when documents prove Trillanes' cases were dismissed in light of the amnesty granted by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010. They said that the dismissal is "final" and "can no longer be disturbed," not even by the Supreme Court.
Any developments on the location of Trillanes' amnesty application? The Department of National Defense now says that, more than being simply "not available," the crucial document could be completely lost since their offices underwent "many renovations." Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman floats the possibility that the document could have been "maliciously concealed" so that Duterte's voiding of the amnesty would have basis. Trillanes said the DND can be charged for losing his records.
However, Rappler obtained documents that show the DND itself certified that Trillanes submitted an amnesty application and that his application was "in order."
Where do other Magdalo mutineers stand on this issue? Trillanes is not the only rebel soldier granted amnesty by Aquino. His fellow mutineers, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano and Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte spoke up for him. Alejano called on the military and police to disobey Duterte's "illegal" order. Belmonte warned that even Duterte appointees who were former coup plotters could be jailed in the future, with Proclamation No 572 as a precedent. This is a distinct possibility after Malacañang said the records of other mutineers granted amnesty will be reviewed. (READ: Jail time now possible for former mutineers turned Duterte appointees)
Other Magdalo soldiers in government – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim and Office of Civil Defense Deputy Administrator Nicanor Faeldon – have yet to speak publicly about the issue.
What are the stances of other officials? The opposition coalition led by Vice President Leni Robredo are staunchly for Trillanes, vowing to help him fight Duterte's proclamation. Opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives are calling on the chamber to denounce the proclamation as a body. – Rappler.com
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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.