MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s surprise proclamation to arrest opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is “eerily similar” to how the president ordered the arrest of his political foe Senator Leila de Lima, a former solicitor general said Friday.
Trillanes sought refuge in his Senate office Tuesday after a presidential proclamation ordered for his arrest over his allegedly invalid amnesty.
“This is eerily similar to the case of Senator Leila de Lima na hinanapan ng rason para mailagay siya sa isang detention cell,” former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay told reporters after he visited Trillanes.
Duterte’s Proclamation 572, which voided an amnesty granted to the senator over 2 failed military uprisings, ordered soldiers and police to arrest Trillanes.
In February 2017, De Lima also holed up in her Senate office after she received word that she will be arrested after being accused of involvement in the manufacturing of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary. She was eventually escorted out of the congressional building and turned over to arresting officials.
Trillanes has yet to be arrested, but Hilbay, who is also De Lima’s legal counsel, said the 2 cases show that the Duterte administration is out to silence critics.
“It’s clear to me that there is a political witch hunt to justify a political resolve which is to silence him by sending him to jail one way or another,” Hilbay said.
“The strategy, I suppose, is to find a way to get a warrant of arrest whether through a military tribunal or through the regular courts,” he said.
Trillanes has asked the Supreme Court to declare Proclamation 572 as unconstitutional, arguing that the power to issue arrest warrants is exclusive to the judiciary.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta will handle Trillanes' petition to block Duterte's withdrawal of his amnesty.
Hilbay said he may also join Trillanes’ legal team depending on the developments in the high court.