Duterte: Ex-DND chief Gazmin liable for ‘usurpation of authority’

Aika Rey

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Duterte: Ex-DND chief Gazmin liable for ‘usurpation of authority’
Former Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda refutes the claim, saying 'there is no irregularity' in Voltaire Gazmin's actions in relation to the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte claimed on Saturday, September 8, that former defense secretary Voltaire “Volts” Gazmin is liable for “usurpation of authority” when the latter recommended the amnesty grant to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in 2011.

Duterte said in a news briefing in Davao City on Saturday that Gazmin, who served the administration of Benigno Aquino III, recommended the grant of amnesty to Trillanes, among others, and “approved it himself.” (LIST: Who’s been granted amnesty?)

“You know he (Gazmin) recommended that a general amnesty be given and then after his recommendation, he approved it. Siya mismo nag-grant, siya mismo nag-recommend. Bakit mo pa irerecommend, ikaw lang pipirma (He was the one who granted but he was the one who recommended. Why would you recommend if you’re the same person who will sign)?” he said.

“So what’s the crime of Volts? Usurpation of authority. Lahat sila ‘yan may tama diyan (All of them are liable),” he added.

Duterte explained that the power to grant amnesty is a presidential prerogative.

“The power to pardon and the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress is a presidential power. It cannot be delegated to anybody else,” he added, claiming that Gazmin violated this.

‘No irregularity’

In an interview on ANC interview on Saturday, former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda refuted Duterte’s claims of usurpation of authority, saying that Gazmin’s involvement was purely administrative. 

“[That is] not true. Proclamation 75 designated the DND (Department of National Defense) the task of receiving amnesty applications, and that the final decision shall be appealable to the Office of the President by any parties,” Lacierda said.

“There is no irregularity, no usurpation of any authority. Proclamation 75 was concurred in by Congress. He (Gazmin) did this act lawfully,” the former spokesman said.

This is provided under Section 2 of Proclamation 75 which states:

The concerned AFP and PNP personnel and their supporters may apply for amnesty under this Proclamation with the ad hoc committee Department of National Defense (DND) which is hereby tasked with receiving and processing applications – including oppositions thereto, if any – for amnesty pursuant to this proclamation and determining whether the applicants are entitled to amnesty pursuant to this proclamation. The final decisions or determination of the DND shall be appealable to the Office of the President by any party to the application. The decision, however, shall be immediately executory even if appealed.

Duterte revoked the amnesty granted to Trillanes through Proclamation 572, declaring it “void ab initio,”as the senator supposedly failed to comply with two requirements for the granting of amnesty: application for amnesty and admission of guilt. Trillanes had disputed this. (LOOK: Trillanes shows proof of amnesty application)

In 2011, Aquino granted amnesty to Trillanes and other mutineers in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Trillanes’ Certificate of Amnesty was signed by Gazmin in 2011.  Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.