Monday, September 24, 2018
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ONE-ON-ONE WITH PANELO

Duterte insists Trillanes amnesty not valid

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses the pressing concerns of the country during a dialogue with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo at the Malacañan Palace on September 11, 2018. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte reiterated on Tuesday that only the President could grant amnesty to military rebels and that the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV as a military mutineer in 2011 was invalid because it was signed not by then President Benigno Aquino III but by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

But nowhere in his Proclamation No. 572 is it stated that that is the reason for his voiding Trillanes’ amnesty and ordering his arrest.

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Instead, the proclamation says Trillanes did not apply for amnesty and did not admit his guilt in the failed military uprisings in 2003, 2006 and 2007 against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Trillanes questioned the legality of Mr. Duterte’s order in the Supreme Court and asked the tribunal to stop his arrest.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to issue an order blocking the arrest of Trillanes because Mr. Duterte had already publicly stated that he was not seeking the senator’s arrest without a warrant.

But Mr. Duterte, in a televised discussion with his chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, did not say that Trillanes would not be arrested.

Trillanes, in a talk with reporters in the Senate, said Mr. Duterte’s new argument involving Gazmin was false. (See related story on this page.)

Aquino proclamation

President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 75 in 2010 granting amnesty to military rebels who took part in the uprisings against Arroyo, the senator said.

The Department of National Defense only processed the applications and its approval of the applications was appealable to the Office of the President, he said.

In his discussion with Panelo, Mr. Duterte mentioned Trillanes’ back-channel talks with the Chinese in Beijing at the height of the maritime standoff between China and the Philippines at Panatag Shoal in 2012.

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Mr. Duterte said China seized the shoal after Trillanes returned to Manila.

Trillanes countered that he had been cleared of charges related to his back-channel mission to Beijing.

He said charges thrown at him after the 2003 mutiny, including having secret houses, had all been dismissed.

‘So insecure’

Trillanes said Mr. Duterte had become “so insecure” when the President chided soldiers for siding with him and listed what he had done for them, including doubling their salaries.

He said nobody was competing with Mr. Duterte over benefits to the military.

The soldiers are loyal to the chain of command and the Constitution, he said.

Trillanes also blasted Mr. Duterte for dragging his mother into the controversy between them by saying she bagged mili tary contracts.

He said his mother, who was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, had no case concerning military contracts.

Trillanes also denied Mr. Duterte’s claim that Magdalo, an organization of former military officers that had become a party-list group, was colluding with communist insurgents to overthrow him.

Waste of public’s time

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Mr. Duterte wasted the people’s time by taking to the air on Tuesday without offering solutions to the nation’s many problems.

Malacañang earlier announced that Mr. Duterte would address the nation, but the address was canceled and instead Mr. Duterte and Panelo sat before the camera for a discussion that Hontiveros described as a “complete disappointment.”

“Instead of presenting concrete measures to address the country’s soaring inflation and rice crisis, President Duterte spent a good part of his ‘tete-a-tete’ with his legal adviser trying to justify his revocation of Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ amnesty, discussing his paranoia over a so-called October destabilization plot and his bloody war on drugs,” Hontiveros said.

“It exposes President Duterte’s priorities: destroy the political opposition and silence dissent,” she said.

“President Duterte should snap out of his fantasy with destabilization plots, roll up his sleeves and start working. Strong economic policies, not wild conspiracy theories, will address the country’s rice crisis and untamed inflation,” she said.

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