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Trillanes changes mind, won't leave Senate just yet

NOT LEAVING. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV says he is not leaving the Senate, still wary of a warrantless arrest. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

NOT LEAVING. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV says he is not leaving the Senate, still wary of a warrantless arrest.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Change of plans.

Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday, September 13, changed his mind after being convinced by comrades and friends not to leave the Senate premises just yet.

On Thursday afternoon, around 2:30 pm, Trillanes first told the media that he would try to "quietly" leave the Senate to go home. It is, in a way, an attempt to prove that President Rodrigo Duterte is insincere in his pronouncement that ruled out a warrantless arrest against him.

"Wala talagang categorical statement ang AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) na hindi nila ako huhulihin, ako susubukan ko mamaya na lumabas. Titingnan natin (There is no categorical statement from the AFP that they will not arrest me. I will try to leave later. Let's see).… I'll do it quietly. We'll try to do it quietly [so] we see how it goes," Trillanes told reporters.

Around 4 hours later, and upon advice of lawyers and friends, Trillanes said he would continue to stay in the Senate – his sanctuary for more than a week now. 

Trillanes said that on Wednesday night, September 12, motorcycle riders in plain clothes followed his vehicle when it went out of the Senate to refuel.

A similar thing supposedly happened on Thursday afternoon, the senator said, when his vehicle was also trailed.

After he announced his intention to leave, Trillanes said armed men continued to troop to the Senate. Rappler spotted at least 10 policemen and at least two SUVs with armed soldiers outside the Senate gate.

“Kanina, early in the afternoon, I announced I intend to leave quietly kaso nagkaroon ng ilang pangyayari last night at kanina para magpagasolina at ito'y sinundan ng ilang nakamotorsiklo na mga personnel. Nakuhanan namin photographs,” Trillanes said.

(Early in the afternoon, I announced that I will leave quietly but there was an incident last night and another one this afternoon when our vehicle went out to refuel but was trailed by motorcycle-riding personnel. We were able to take photographs.)

It was reported to us... nagkaroon ng augmentation ng PNP personnel outside. Ang intention daw ay paglabas ko, they will stop me from going back in… A few hours ago, talagang winarningan kami ng AFP arresting units na talagang huhulihin ako paglabas… It’s more prudent to stay here in the meantime,” he added.

(It was reported to us that there was an augmentation of PNP personnel outside. The intention is that upon exiting the Senate, they will stop me from going back in. A few hours ago, we were warned by AFP arresting units that I will really be arrested if I go out. It's more prudent to stay here in the meantime.)

Duterte initially ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to immediately arrest the senator. They, however, later changed their tune and said they would submit to civilian courts. Two Makati CIty Regional Trial Courts have yet to issue arrest warrants against Trillanes.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had assured Trillanes there would be no arrest without a warrant. But the senator remains unconvinced.

“Maari kasing may technicality, yung sinasabi nila na for as long as walang warrant walang arrest. But AFP doesn't issue warrants (There might be a technicality involved in that statement that there will be no arrest without a warrant). At may existing order sa (There is an existing order for the) AFP units and no new order canceling that previous arrest order. As far as they are concerned, media pronouncement lang 'yun kasi ultimately AFP units would operate on the existing, prevailing proclamation,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes had been staying in his Senate office since Tuesday, September 4, when Duterte's Proclamation 572 was published in the Manila Times– Rappler.com

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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