Monday, September 24, 2018
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Senator’s supporters flock to Senate building

‘STAND WITH TRILLANES’ Civil society members have rallied behind Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is holed up in his Senate office as he fights a questionable Malacañang order voiding the amnesty granted to him in 2011 as a military rebel. —RICHARD A. REYES

Supporters of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV continue to show up at the Senate building, ready to shield him should the authorities come to arrest him without a warrant.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has told the military and the police to allow due process, as Trillanes is fighting the government’s application for a warrant in a Makati court and has asked the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the presidential order voiding the amnesty given to him as military rebel in 2011.

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On Saturday, supporters sponsored a Mass for Trillanes outside his Senate office, with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Fr. Robert Reyes officiating.

Among those who attended the Mass were former Education Secretary Armin Luistro and former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

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In his homily, Pabillo said the scrapping of Trillanes’ amnesty could be a government tactic to divert the public’s attention from the numerous problems of the country.

Another Mass was celebrated for Trillanes at the same venue on Sunday afternoon.

Trillanes has been holed up in his Senate office since Tuesday to avoid arrest.

Senate leaders have said that no member would be arrested within its premises. But Trillanes has promised to honor a warrant issued by a civilian court.

Coping well

The senator told reporters on Saturday that he, his wife and their two college-age children were coping well with the controversy.

“The family is in high spirits as well. We’ve been through worse,” he said.

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“I don’t want them to be subject to this kind of experience again, but fate has brought us here. We’re praying for strength for everyone,” he said.

Support from others

“They understood that when I took up this task of being a public servant, a public official, there are risks involved,” he said.

They are also getting support from outside the family. The mother of his son’s girlfriend is praying for him, he said.

“Everybody has been very, very supportive, helpful,” he added.

But his mother, who has Parkinson’s disease, has not been told about what’s going on, he said.

People have been streaming in and out of Trillanes’ fifth-floor office in the Senate building since Tuesday to show their support for him.

A 70-ish but sprightly woman, who identified herself as “urban poor,” said she went there after hearing that Trillanes was under threat of arrest and in need of support from the people.

Man of few words

“I’m grateful and moved by the outpouring of support and sympathy,” Trillanes told the Inquirer. “I’m humbled by such gestures, and I assure everyone that nothing has changed. I won’t waver in the fight for truth and democracy.”

The Inquirer joined a cousin of Trillanes on a night out and learned that as a kid, the senator was “shy and reserved.”

“While other kids would play around, he’d rather stay home in Caloocan,” the cousin said.

“He is still a man of few words, but he keeps his word. He is really upright like his father (Navy Capt. Antonio Trillanes Sr.), who was not corrupt,” the cousin said.

Trillanes lives modestly in a house originally owned by his in-laws, which he has renovated, the cousin said.

The Inquirer called up a classmate of Trillanes at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and learned that as a cadet, Trillanes was a high achiever.

“I remember that he was the chair of the PMA honor committee, which imposes disciplinary action on violations of the school’s honor code,” the classmate said.

Not worst experience

Having been detained in military jails for seven years, holing up in the Senate building is not the worst experience for Trillanes.

He was first detained in 2003 for the Oakwood mutiny, where junior officers sought the removal of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for corruption.

While undergoing trial in 2007, he and fellow soldiers walked out of a Makati courtroom and laid siege to the Peninsula Manila hotel while calling for Arroyo’s ouster.

At that time, Trillanes was already serving his first term as senator, which he won after campaigning from his detention cell.

The classmate said he believed Trillanes would survive this latest challenge to his integrity.

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TAGS: amnesty revocation, Antonio Trillanes IV, Armin Luistro, Broderick Pabillo, Oakwood Mutiny, revocation of amnesty, Robert reyes, Rodrigo Duterte, Supreme Court, Teresita Deles
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