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No restrictions imposed on Trillanes, Enrile says

December 21, 2010 2:07pm

(Updated 3:34 p.m.) The Senate will not put any restrictions on recently freed Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer detained for his alleged involvement in attempts to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

However, Trillanes, whom a Makati court placed under constructive custody of the Senate, will need permission if ever he wants to leave the country, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday.

Walang (There will be no) limitations... the limitation is his status. I have to put a symbol of authority to establish that status and that is why we have to assign to him the two members of [Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms]," Enrile told reporters in an interview.

Constructive custody means that while a person is not under immediate physical control, his or her freedom is controlled or restrained by a designated legal authority.

On Trillanes' possible foreign travels, Enrile said: “I will be responsible for him. That is subject to my authority whether to grant or not to grant."

Trillanes, the first Philippine senator elected while in detention, walked free Monday night after Presiding Judge Oscar Pimentel of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 granted his provisional liberty.

Enrile said Trillanes will not be required to report to him or the Senate, but said he expects him to begin his senatorial duties. He likewise assured the court that Trillanes would not flee pending his amnesty application.

Sabi niya sakin (He told me) he wants to stay with his family first and enjoy their company," Enrile said.

In Malacañang, President Benigno Aquino III urged Trillanes, detained since 2003, to use his remaining three years in the Senate to make up for the time he spent in detention.

Alam niyo ipinaglaban natin ang karapatan niya na magbigay halaga sa mandato ng taumbayan na gawin ang kanyang tungkulin. Sana po gamitin niya pagkakataong ito, at mailabas ang hindi nya nagawa ng tatlong taon tungo sa pagsasaayos ng ating lipunan," Aquino said in an chance interview after he visited wounded soldiers at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City.

Trillanes had owed his temporary release to Aquino’s proclamation granting amnesty to soldiers and policemen involved in attempts to topple the Arroyo administration.

Meeting with the judge

During Tuesday’s interview, Enrile admitted that he met with Judge Pimentel last October 25 to talk about the possibility of transferring Trillanes from Camp Crame to the Senate.

He said he informed Judge Pimentel that they needed Trillanes because the Senate is short of members. "Out of 24 senators, only 21 are working," he said.

The Senate has one vacant post after Aquino, a former senator, was elected President in the May 10 elections, and two missing members — Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in hiding because of a double murder case, and Trillanes.

Enrile said he did not discuss the coup d’etat charges filed against Trillanes with Judge Pimentel. He likewise denied that he forced the judge to release Trillanes.

"I don’t think I can pressure Judge Pimentel," Enrile said. "I know him well [and] I would not pressure any member of the court."

Coup plotter?

Trillanes was detained after joining more than 300 soldiers in seizing Oakwood Premiere Hotel (now Ascott) in Makati City on July 27, 2003. They were demanding the resignation of, among others, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom they accused of corruption.

In the May 2007 elections, Trillanes was elected to the Senate as guest candidate for the opposition. He assumed office on June 30, 2007.

On Nov. 29, 2007, he abandoned his own trial and triggered a standoff at the Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati City, where he again called for Mrs. Arroyo's ouster.

On October 11, President Aquino signed Proclamation No. 50 which would grant amnesty to soldiers involved in at least three attempts to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

However, both the Senate and the House of Representatives expressed the opinion that the proclamation needed some amendments.

Malacañang then amended the amnesty grant and issued Proclamation No. 75 in November.

After both Houses concurred with the amnesty, the Department of National Defense was tasked to process the applications for amnesty. - with Jam L. Sisante/KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV
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