Amnesty granted to Trillanes distinct from other mutineers, says Palace
Malacanang said on Monday the situation of opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, whose amnesty was voided by President Rodrigo Duterte, could not be compared with the other former mutineers since he was the acknowledged leader of the Magdalo group.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the signing of former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of Trillanes' "certificate of amnesty" and not of former President Benigno Aquino III could be another ground to declare the senator's amnesty as "void ab initio."
Duterte issued on August 31 Proclamation No. 572, declaring void from the beginning Trillanes' amnesty because he allegedly did not comply with the "minimum requirements," such as the application for the amnesty and admission of his guilt for the commission of the crime.
It was Duterte, during his arrival from Israel and Jordan trips, who mentioned Gazmin could have committed "usurpation of authority" for being the signatory of Trillanes' amnesty.
"The President’s belief as a lawyer is that an amnesty must be personally granted by the President, it cannot be further delegated to other officials. It is a presidential prerogative so the position of the President is that only the President should have signed the order of amnesty," he said.
Asked if the amnesty granted to other former mutineers could also be declared void considering the likelihood that Gazmin also signed their respective certificates, Roque said, "I'm not aware. Senator Trillanes' declaration is so far the only that the President has proclaimed to be null and void ab initio and on good basis."
"There is basis for distinction because Trillanes was the acknowledged leader of the Magdalo mutineers."
Trillanes, then a Navy officer, and the other Magdalo members, some of them are now with the administration, participated in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
Meanwhile, Roque also challenged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to just intervene on Trillanes' petition before the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional Proclamation 572.
"I think as lawyers, they know what they should be doing. Stop talking. If they want, they can intervene in the Supreme Court action and let their views known. If they have proper standing, the court will allow them. So for me, the IBP of all organizations knows what the proper legal remedy is. Bring the case to the Supreme Court, not in the media," he stressed.
In a statement, the IBP has expressed alarm over the "overt audacity to publicly arrest and incarcerate an incumbent member of the Senate for offenses that had been abolished by the Chief Executive and Legislature resulting in dismissal of criminal proceedings by our courts."
It explained that once the amnesty was granted, it could not be simply dissolved by the invocation of the words "void ab initio" as though "it were some magical incantation that can nullify vested rights."
The lawyers' group reiterated that amnesty is an exercise of sovereign power that automatically confers upon the grantee vested rights appurtenant to the obliteration of the “offense with which he is charged. A person released by amnesty stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense.”
The IBP also accused the Department of Justice of forum shopping for filing simultaneous motions before two independent courts to ask for the same reliefs, which is to arrest Trillanes.
The DOJ has been asking two courts in Makati City, citing rebellion and coup d'etat charges, respectively, against Trillanes as the bases for the issuance of the warrants of arrest. Celerina Monte/DMS