MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte, as chief executive, can grant a proclamation voiding the amnesty of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.
Panelo said Duterte "who is mandated to faithfully execute of the laws of the land, cannot be shackled to a grant of clemency when the grantee pursues acts inimical to the interests of the State."
"He (Trillanes) can’t be allowed to do that. The grant of amnesty is akin to a conditional pardon; even assuming that it is valid, you have to comply with the terms and conditions," Panelo told ANC.
"The condition would be you should be a good citizen, follow the law, do not commit acts against the interests of the State."
When asked if Trillanes has not been following the law, Panelo said: "Of course, he has been uttering seditious acts against the President."
Panelo, however, maintained that critics of the President are entitled to freedom of expression.
Panelo's arguments contradict legal experts' who have said Duterte cannot unilaterally invalidate Trillanes' amnesty.
Duterte’s Presidential Proclamation No. 572 released Tuesday voided the amnesty granted to Trillanes, rendering it null upon issuance, for the senator’s supposed failure to comply with requirements including his admission of guilt.
"Mr. Trillanes did not submit an application under oath admitting to his crimes and publicly has been declaring that he is not guilty of any crime charged of him. Given the failure to submit that mandatory requirements, the Proclamation would be null and void," Panelo said.
"When the Proclamation is voided there is nothing that the grantee can invoke. In other words, he can’t be asking for something that you’re not entitled to in the first place."
Trillanes vowed to fight Duterte's proclamation and said he would stay in Senate custody.
Panelo, meanwhile, denied any part in the invalidation of Trillanes' amnesty grant, despite suggesting a review in March 2017.
"I was suggesting a review but I’m not part of it. But I agree with the result," he said.
"I suggested for a review, but it doesn't matter who made the review; what's important is the findings of the review shows that the proclamation is void because the mandatory requirements, rules and regulations of the law were not complied with."