Trillanes accuses Calida of 'stealing' his amnesty application documents

MANILA, Philippines – Missing documents? Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accused Solicitor General Jose Calida of "stealing" his amnesty application documents.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, September 26, Trillanes asked the military "why did they allow" Calida to take the said documents.

"Nananawagan ako sa leadership ng Armed Forces (of the Philippines) and ng Department of National Defense, particularly yung J1 ng AFP. Alam nila na nag-apply ako. Alam nila na meron akong dokumento. Bakit hinayaan nilang kunin ito at iwala ni Mr Calida?" Trillanes said.

(I am calling on the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, particularly AFP's J1. They knew that I applied. They knew that I have the documents. Why did they allow Mr Calida to take it and lose it?)

President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the amnesty granted to Trillanes through Proclamation 572, declaring it "void ab initio," for supposedly failed to comply with two requirements for the granting of amnesty: (1) application for amnesty and (2) admission of guilt.

Trillanes argued that the burden of proof is with the prosecution, who only showed a mere certification that his application documents were missing.

"Statement ni Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana na hinihingi ni Calida ang amnesty documents ko. Kung hindi ako nag-apply, ano bibigay nila, 'di ba?" (Secretary Lorenza earlier said that Calida asked for my amnesty documents. If I didn't apply, what would they give him, right?)" Trillanes said.

"Nung tinanong sila, 'Anong katibayan niyo?' 'Yung certification lang na hindi mahanap, hindi certification na hindi ako nag-file. Sila ang nag-aassert. Sila ang nag-aallege. Sila ang maglabas ng proof, kasi meron akong certification [of amnesty]," he said.

(When they were asked, "What's your proof?" [They showed] the certification that they couldn't find [my application], not a certification that I never filed. They asserted. They alleged. They should show a proof, because I have my certification of amnesty.)

Duterte said it was "bright" Calida who did the research that led to the discovery of "flaws" in Trillanes' amnesty grant. The spadework started when Calida called Lorenzana to ask for the documents "without telling" the latter why. 

Lorenzana said he did not give any records, only access, but it was unclear if the staff actually went to retrieve the files. On August 31, AFP General Headquarters' personnel division (J1) gave a certification that Trillanes' amnesty records were missing.

No original copy, no filing

On Tuesday, September 25, the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ruled in favor of the administration, issuing an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against Trillanes to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Trillanes maintained that application forms never had receiving copies. He likened the process to applying for government IDs such as passports.

"Talagang magic 'yun eh. 'Yun ang basehan nila kung bakit ni-revoke. (It's like performing magic tricks. That's their basis why they revoked my amnesty)," he said. 

Despite submitting affidavits, these were not accepted by Judge Elmo Alameda, particularly the sworn affidavit of Colonel Josefa Berbigal, who swore under oath that Trillanes filed the application form.

Alameda affirmed that without an original copy or "even a photocopy" of the actual amnesty application form, there's sufficient basis to say Trillanes really failed to file it.

Trillanes is out on bail after Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered his arrest on Tuesday.

Another Makati court, Branch 148, is handling the DOJ's plea to revive coup charges against Trillanes for his participation in the failed Oakwood mutiny in 2003 against the Arroyo administration. The charges are non-bailable.

The DOJ has submitted its reply on Trillanes' rejoinder at Branch 148 some minutes before it closed late Wednesday. With the court issuing a decision anytime soon, Trillanes said he's "prepared for the worst." – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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