The Philippine judicial system failed a "crucial" test when it allowed the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over an eight-year-old amnesty declared void by President Rodrigo Duterte, a US-based non-government organization said.
In a statement, David Borden of StoptheDrugWar.org lamented that Trillanes is already the second Senator critical of Duterte to be arrested.
"Senator Leila de Lima was incarcerated a year and a half ago on unsupported drug charges, half a year after President Duterte promised to 'destroy' her," the group said, adding, "Duterte promised a year ago to also 'destroy' Senator Trillanes."
Borden expressed dismay that Makati Regional Trial Court judge Elmo Alameda issued a warrant of arrest against the senator on the basis that Trillanes did not submit the copy of his application for amnesty, even though the document was submitted to Department of National Defense and, therefore, it is the DND's obligation to keep track of the application.
On August 31 Duterte issued Proclamation 572, voiding the amnesty granted to Trillanes eight years ago by then-President Benigno Aquino III and Congress for his participation in coup attempts against ex-President Gloria Arroyo, alleging that he did not comply with the "minimum requirements to qualify under the amnesty proclamation."
Records from the DND and footage from various news organizations have shown that Trillanes applied for amnesty; that he admitted to guilt over his involvement in the mutinies; and that his application amnesty was found in order by DND.
“StoptheDrugWar.org condemns the Duterte administration's blatantly political attack on Senator Antonio Trillanes. We further note that the day on which the President's arrest order was initially made public was the same day Trillanes was leading a Senate hearing on government contracts issued to a firm owned by the family of Duterte [administration's] Solicitor General Jose Calida,” Borden added.
Critics of Duterte's move have pointed out that the other Magdalo soldiers who were granted amnesty along with Trillanes have not been targeted by the administration—to which the Palace had said that the other amnesties were valid until "questioned."
StoptheDrugWar.org, however, said that it is concerned that the voiding of amnesty could be done to other Magdalo members, including Representative Gary Alejano, another Duterte critic who will be running for the Senate in the 2019 polls.
"StoptheDrugWar.org is focused on the still-unfolding human rights crisis in the Philippines, and Senator Trillanes is one of a handful of leaders willing to aggressive confront that crisis. Whether he remains free to speak and campaign, or instead joins Senator de Lima as a symbol behind bars, we will continue to support his efforts," Borden added.
Trillanes joined the StoptheDrugWar.org's annual Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna last March, where he claimed that the Duterte administration's anti-drug war already killed some 20,000 individuals. — Llanesca T. Panti/BM, GMA News