Exit ban looms for Filipino senator as Duterte revokes amnesty

Senator Trillianes says he does not fear arrest, alleges plot to declare de facto martial law

Manila: An order barring Philippine Senator Antonio Trillianes IV from leaving the country was imminent after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the annulment of the lawmaker’s amnesty voided.


Judge Andres Soriano of the Makati City Regional Trial Court received a request from the Department of Justice (DoJ) asking that a hold-departure order be issued against Trillanes, a key opponent of Duterte.

As it happened: Duterte critic Tillanes faces arrest

However, it remained unclear on Tuesday if the magistrate would grant the justice department’s appeal.

In an order signed by Duterte on August 31, made public and implemented on Tuesday while he was away on an official visit to Israel, the president ruled that the amnesty given to Trillanes for his role in three failed power grabs in 2003, 2006 and 2007, was “void ab initio” — or invalid from the start — because it did not meet the “minimum requirements to qualify under the amnesty proclamation.”

Proclamation No. 572 cited Trillanes’ role as one of the leaders of the Oakwood mutiny in July 27, 2003 when he was still a Navy Lt. Senior Grade, and the February 2006 Marines stand-off in Fort Bonifacio and the November 29, 2007 Manila Peninsula incident.

On Tuesday, police backed by soldiers were present at the Senate premises in Pasay City to enforce the arrest order.

Reacting to his possible arrest, Trillanes said he did not fear being imprisoned at all.

“I was imprisoned for seven and a half years [by the military], this is nothing compared to what I have gone through. Mr Duterte, I am not afraid of you,” he said.

“What Mr Duterte wants to happen is to order a warrantless arrest which seems to declare a de facto martial law. My amnesty was granted after all requirements were complied with. I even took oath in front of then defence officials. All my cases covered by the amnesty have been dismissed,” he claimed.

Attorney Florin Hilbay, who was solicitor-general during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, said an “amnesty” required express admission of guilt and a court order, not simply a declaration from the president.

“Amnesty is a political act, a way for the government to move forward. It is a contract and you need to go to court in order to void that contract,” Hilbay said.

Meanwhile, Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the basis for revocation was due to Trillanes’ failure to apply for the amnesty in line with the three power grabs he participated in against the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Flawed amnesty request

“In order for a pardon to be issued by the one requesting it, the latter has to admit it and be sorry for it,” the Justice secretary said.

“In other words, you have make to confession and admit that you are wrong, something to that effect. That is not present in Trillanes’ amnesty request,” the secretary added.

Vice-President Leni Robredo, a former lawyer who is not from the same political party as President Duterte, said the decision to void Trillanes’ amnesty is proof that the present administration will do anything to silence dissent.

Trillanes ran for vice-president in 2016 but failed to get elected.

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