Trillanes amnesty valid, says ex-defense exec who backed it

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to the claims of the Duterte administration, the amnesty granted in 2011 to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was valid, said the former defense undersecretary who recommended amnesty for the senator.

Honorio Azcueta, former undersecretary and chair of the Department of Defense ad hoc committee on amnesty, told reporters on Sunday, September 9, that he "conscientiously" followed the process in accordance with then president Benigno Aquino III's Proclamation No. 75.

"I can honestly say that as chair of the ad hoc committee on amnesty, I conscientiously did my job in accordance with the Proclamation 75 and its rules," said Azcueta, who led the review of application and the subsequent recommendation of amnesty grant in 2011.

His response came after President Rodrigo Duterte said former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin is liable for usurpation of authority. (READ: Noynoy Aquino says Duterte should 'respect, recognize' Trillanes amnesty)

Duterte issued Proclamation 572 revoking the amnesty granted to Trillanes for his supposed failure to apply and to admit his guilt. Old documents obtained by Rappler, however, show Trillanes did both.

Azcueta also said the senator complied with the two requirements. "Obviously. That's why on records he was granted amnesty," Azcueta said.

Asked how different Trillanes' application was from the other soldiers then, he said, "Their narrations of their participation in the incidents may be different."

In October 2010, Aquino signed Proclamation No. 50 – a general amnesty proclamation for mutineers in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege against the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Aquino later issued Proclamation No. 75 in November 2010, which superseded Proclamation No. 50. It was then concurred in by both chambers of Congress in December 2010.

Trillanes applied for amnesty in January 2011 – within the amnesty application period – and was in the list of officers and soldiers granted amnesty that same month.

Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to arrest Trillanes despite the senator's civilian status since 2007, 4 years before he was granted amnesty.

Duterte and the military later changed tune and said they would now wait for the decision of the civilian courts. The Department of Justice sought arrest warrants for Trillanes in two Makati courts but have failed to get an immediate decision.

Trillanes questioned Duterte's proclamation before the Supreme Court, as he remains holed up in his Senate office upon advice of lawyers and friends. (LOOK: Inside Trillanes' 'home' in the Senate) – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com

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