MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has approved the amnesty application filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, one of the leaders of the Oakwood mutiny in July 2003.
Defense spokesman Eduardo Batac said Gazmin approved the applications of the former military rebels on the recommendation of the DND amnesty committee, which started entertaining applicants last January 3.
Batac said the officers and men submitted their papers from January 4 , 5, 6 and 7. No one filed for amnesty last Jan. 3. Trillanes filed his application on January 5, along with fellow Oakwood mutiny leader Marine Capt. Gary Alejano.
Other amnesty grantees include 1Lt. Nathaniel Rabonza, who filed his application on January 6. Rabonza is one of the 8 officers linked to the Oakwood mutiny who were pardoned by President Arroyo about three years ago.
Batac said the amnesty committee, headed by DND undersecretary for defense affairs Honorio Azcueta, endorsed the approval of the application of the batch after receiving no opposition within the allotted 15-day period – starting from the filing of the application.
“No application was disapproved so the applications from Jan. 4, 5, 6 and 7 were approved…The committee recommendations and the SND (secretary of national defense) approves. That is the process under the IRR (implementing rules and regulations),” he said.
Batac said the oath-taking formalize the grant of the amnesty “and completes the process.” At least 15 officers and 97 enlisted men have applied for amnesty as of January 25.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier issued Proclamation No. 75, which grants amnesty to all active and former personnel of the military, police force and their supporters who may have committed crimes in connection with the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines standoff, and the Manila Peninsula incident during the Arroyo administration.
The proclamation paved the way for the provisional release of Trillanes last December after 7 years in jail.
Trillanes, then a Navy lieutenant senior grade, was the spokesman of the Magdalo group of junior officers and soldiers who occupied the plush Oakwood Premiere apartments (now Ascott Makati) in late July 2003. The group demanded the resignation of then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some of the members of her Cabinet citing graft and corruption allegations.
He later walked out of a court hearing the coup d’etat charges against him in November 2007 with then Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and some members of the Magdalo group and triggered a standoff at the The Peninsula Manila hotel in the heart of the Makati Central Business District.
In 2007, while in detention, he successfully ran for a Senate seat.