Senate leaders defy warrantless arrest order vs. Trillanes

Senator Antonio Trillanes
File photo of Antonio Trillanes in the Senate

SENATE leaders defied on Tuesday a warrantless arrest order issued against Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV shortly after the Duterte administration revoked the amnesty granted by former President Benigno S. Aquino III to Trillanes, who was jailed for involvement in a failed military mutiny in 2003 against then- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I was placed in custody of the Senate,” Trillanes said, pointing out that he was ordered arrested by Malacañang without a warrant. “The arresting officers have no warrant; this is de facto martial law.”

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III explained that they need to wait for the transmittal of the official copy of the Office of the President’s order revoking the amnesty earlier granted to Trillanes. “If so, then we will act collegially; I cannot decide…. A collegial decision is needed” before the Senate acts on claims that Trillanes failed to file for amnesty during the Aquino administration.

Trillanes talked to reporters shortly after process servers arrived to arrest the senator at his office following issuance of Palace Proclamation 572 dated August 31, 2018, signed by President Duterte and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, revoking the amnesty granted to Trillanes on January 1, 2011, during the Aquino administration.

After attending a Senate hearing in the morning, Trillanes took a side door going up to his office to attend a meeting of minority senators to tackle the revocation of the amnesty.

“The Senate stands firm and would not allow the arrest because the revocation of amnesty granted to me has no basis,” the senator added. He told reporters that Senate President Sotto also assured him that  “for as long as I am in the Senate premises, they won’t allow any arrest.”

Confirming his legal options, Trillanes said his lawyers are questioning the basis of the warrantless arrest when all conditions of the amnesty granted to him earlier were complied with.  “Iniipit nila ako [They are boxing me in]. I can’t go out of the premises,” the senator said, questioning the basis for arresting him without charges.

Trillanes took the floor at Tuesday’s session, relating the revocation that Palace officials anchored on the basis that he did not file for amnesty and never admitted guilt for the alleged offenses for which he was incarcerated and later granted amnesty—his alleged involvement in the 2006 Marine standoff and the Penninsula Hotel incident, where rebel soldiers sought refuge in the plush Makati hotel.

Honor people’s mandate–Recto

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto asserted that Trillanes should be granted every opportunity to challenge the revocation of the amnesty “in complete freedom.”

Recto recalled that when Trillanes was reelected senator in 2013 with  more than 14 million votes, it  “affirmed that the absolution earlier bestowed on him [Trillanes] was right.”

“We should honor the mandate and the trust millions of our countrymen had reposed on Senator Trillanes,” Recto added. “If he had committed offenses after Peninsula, if he had broken any law since, then the right course is to charge him, and not to nullify an amnesty that had been granted to him.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon pointed out that Trillanes is an elected senator and “under the Constitution, he cannot be arrested,” unless the punishment for an offense is beyond six years imprisonment. “Here, there is no case. So we requested the Senate President to take him in custody pending remedies in regular courts.”

Drilon, a veteran lawyer and former justice secretary, pointed out that the regional trial court dismissed the cases against Trillanes “when he availed [himself] of amnesty, so there is no case; they can file a new case against Trillanes but that will be double jeopardy.”

“We strongly believe that the amnesty granted to Trillanes is valid and the court dismissed the rebellion case,” said Drilon. “When it was dismissed, it validated the application of amnesty.”





Image Credits: AP

Butch Fernandez

Butch Fernandez is BusinessMirror’s senior political reporter based at the Senate. He has covered Malacanang (3 presidencies), the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, local governments and defense since 1984.