LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By: Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
What now Trillanes?
THE week’s prominent front page story is about Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s order revoking the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes. This could lead to the resumption of his trial before the military tribunal to answer for his role in the mutiny against the government (of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo). He, along with other members of the mutinous Magdalo coterie, were granted amnesty by Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III. The entire nation was made to believe that Aquino’s action virtually erased all criminal liabilities relating to the mutiny of the Magdalo as an unquestionable and undebatable (political) action and had to be accepted as a final verdict. The legitimacy of Aquino’s order is buttressed by the concurrence of then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte. But there is more to it than what meets the eye.
Duterte’s revocation of the amnesty, however, shocked the nation more than when it was granted by Aquino and while the airlanes, the mainstream and social media were buzzing with news, commentaries, indignation and celebration the circumstances behind Trillanes grant of amnesty, unraveled before us like a blockbuster telenovela. It appears that a predicate to the amnesty is for the grantee to put in writing his admission of commission of the crime and to apply for amnesty. If we were to believe what so far had been echoed by the government, Trillanes never complied with any of these two preconditions therefore, the grant of amnesty was, from the start, void. The senator is saying he did but then again that is a matter of claim.
Trillanes was ordered arrested but as of this writing he refused to leave the premises of the Senate. I caught up his shrill voice declaring “how can he be granted amnesty if he failed to comply with those conditions”. The Department of National Defense, moreover, said that they yet to find any of the purported documents. So far only Sen. Franklin Drilon is claiming that Trillanes is a victim of double jeopardy. Senate Pres. Tito Sotto, meanwhile, assures Trillanes that for as long as he stays in the confines of the Senate, he will not be arrested. But that is not absolute for there are limitations to this edict and non-bailable offense and perpetual confinement are not contemplated here.
DND, meanwhile, announced that the detention cell of the senator had been prepared. And meanwhile too, Senator Enrile, who practically cuddled Trillanes and fought hard to have the former be physically present in the Senate sessions, have yet to issue a statement. Recall that Enrile personally guaranteed custody of Trillanes but, in time became his vicious nemesis. (The case of erstwhile Speaker Bebot Alvares and his friend Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo is not the first act of betrayal among best-of-friends in recent political saga in the country.)
Senator Trillanes is really bound to have his comeuppance not so much because of his being vociferous and rabid critic of President Duterte but because of his failure to abide by the rules of the amnesty. He has to produce the vital documents, if he has any. I am sure that if he had these in his position he will lose no time to display these in public to discredit his pet peeve. For now, he is pipsqueak. These documents are unlike the spurious bank statements which he got from questionable source (a certain de Mesa?) which he peddled as that of Mayor Rodrigo and Inday Sara Duterte. The noose is even tightening around his neck. If the revocation of his amnesty is bad enough, it is even more nerve-shocking now that even the Regional Trial Court hearing his case for staging a coup d’etat is said to resume trial of his case. A warrant for his arrest is expected. Wonder if Sotto’s chamber will shield Trillanes once the warrant is served.
What a picture of contrast we are witnessing this week. Duterte is being received by thousands of adoring fans in Israel and Jordan while Trillanes being hounded by the shadow of his past. Now am beginning to understand why this senator, once branded by BBC’s Stephen Sackur as “consistently out of tune”, does everything at President Aquino’s bidding. It will be more interesting to hear what Senator Enrile has to say of the fate of this Naval officer he once valiantly argued for.