[WRAP | Day 4] Trillanes stays in Senate, Duterte changes tune on warrantless arrest

Sofia Tomacruz

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[WRAP | Day 4] Trillanes stays in Senate, Duterte changes tune on warrantless arrest
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV remains holed up in the Senate as President Rodrigo Duterte himself backtracks on the warrantless arrest of his fierce critic

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Senator Antonio Trillanes IV remained free for another day, as a rumored warrantless arrest did not happen on Friday, September 7.

On Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Trillanes camp headed to court to implement and block Proclamation No 572, respectively.  Later in the day, the Department of National Defense (DND) and even President Rodrigo Duterte changed their tone on the issue of a warrantless arrest for the opposition senator.  

Developments on Friday, September 7

Trillanes remains at the Senate: The Trillanes camp filed a motion for a special raffle to speed up proceedings at the Supreme Court (SC), where it had earlier requested a temporary restraining order (TRO) against President Rodrigo Duterte’s order voiding his amnesty. 

Trillanes said the TRO would be the military’s “way out” and the best way to ease tension in the institution. He said a “pushback” within the military was spoiling the government bid for his warrantless arrest.

[WRAP | Day 4] Trillanes stays in Senate, Duterte changes tune on warrantless arrest

The petition was raffled off to Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta early Friday night. SC internal rules could have allowed Peralta to make a recommendation on the same day, but he did not.

With Trillanes certain to remain in the Senate at least for this weekend, Senate President Vicente Sotto III asked minority senators anot to “abuse” his hospitality and to help him “preserve the integrity and the sanctity” of the institution by not calling on their supporters to flock to the Senate. 

CHALLENGE. Senator Trillanes holds a press conference on Friday morning, September 7 as he continues to challenge President Duterte's proclamation voiding his amnesty. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Military defers to SC: The defense department broke its silence on Proclamation 572, saying it rwill wait for the SC to decide on Trillanes’petition. This means the DND recognizes that the proclamation can be challenged and it cannot act unilaterally to arrest a civilian.

But the DND, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, still wants to place Trillanes under its custody. The AFP also said it was still “constituting” a court martial to decide on Trillanes’ revived administrative cases: conduct unbecoming of an officer, and a general article offense which broadly covers any act discrediting the military service.

The AFP also said it remained united and committed to the rule of law despite the controversy, and amid concerns it would allow itself to be used for a political agenda. Trillanes himself said he believed the AFP was united and would remain loyal to its constitutional mandate.

The whole issue also shed light on the little-known fact that AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr himself gained amnesty. Then-president Fidel Ramos granted Galvez amnesty in 1996, after several years in detention for joining the bloody 1989 coup attempt against the Cory Aquino administration.

The AFP chief, who was with Duterte in Jordan, had yet to issued any statement on Trillanes, but one of his predecessors did.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, who was AFP chief during the Arroyo administration, said on Friday night that Trillanes was indeed no longer a soldier, contradicting the DND and AFP which both said the senator was “reverted to active duty” after the voiding of his amnesty.

ADVISING DUTERTE. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr is also in Jordan with President Rodrigo Duterte. File photo by Manman Dejeto

Esperon said he recognized Trillanes’ resignation from the military in 2007, in keeping with the Omnibus Election Code. Trillanes was elected senator that same year. He insisted, however, that a military court still has jurisdiction over Trillanes since he committed offenses when he was still in active service. 

Duterte waits for courts, DOJ continues to seek arrest warrant: After consulting with Cabinet members and other senior officials who joined him in his latest foreign trip, Duterte decided to wait for the courts to issue an arrest warrant against Trillanes.


The DOJ also filed a “very urgent” request for an arrest warrant against Trillanes in another court but the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 did not rule on the request by the end of office hours that day. 

What happens next? The nation keeps watch. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.