Trillanes: Duterte wants to use military as a 'tool for oppression'
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed vitriol on Senator Antonio Trillanes IV Saturday morning as he defended his decision to void his amnesty, saying the former rebel soldier was “pretending to be a crusading soldier who did nothing.”
Upon touchdown from trips to Israel and Jordan, Duterte lashed out at Trillanes anew, accusing the former Navy officer of being corrupt and of abandoning the military.
"It was all Trillanes, pretending to be a crusading soldier when as a matter of fact, wala naman silang ginawa (they did nothing)," he said in his arrival speech, hitting one of his fiercest critics.
It was an apparent reference to uprisings that Trillanes and other junior military officers mounted against government in 2003 and 2007.
Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 invalidated the 2011 amnesty granted Trillanes for the mutinies, reviving coup d'etat and rebellion charges against the former Navy officer.
For the Commander-in-Chief, Trillanes abandoned the cause of the military and instead took advantage of his position for personal gain.
"He not only abandoned the vision of the military, he became a corrupt guy, collecting diyan sa mga negosyante (from businessmen). Para siyang abogado. Alam namin 'yan kasi ang negosyante, maski paano mo taguin, nagsasabi talaga yan (He was like a lawyer. We know that because you know businessmen, no matter how you try to hide, they will tell)," he said.
The President also said Trillanes made the military believe he was concerned about soldiers' welfare but did nothing for them.
"Itong si Trillanes, sundalo (This Trillanes, he was a soldier). Nag-make believe siya doon sa mga sundalo na (He made soldiers believe that) he was all for the military. And he never gave a hoot," Duterte said.
"Ako wala ako, isang beses lang ako nagsabi, kampanya. 'I will double your salary.' Period. Takdang panahon ibinigay ko. Siya, military siya. Malapit siya kay Aquino. Nandiyan si Voltz," he added, referring to soldiers' pay hike.
(Me, I just said it once during the campaign. 'I will double your salary.' Period. At the right time, I gave that. He was in the military. He was close to (former President Benigno Aquino III). Voltz (former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin) was there.)
CALIDA 'RESEARCHED' TRILLANES AMNESTY LOOPHOLES
Duterte maintained he was not picking on Trillanes and that it was Solicitor General Jose Calida who found the senator's amnesty questionable.
"'Yung kay Trillanes, alam mo ang totoo niyan, ang nag-research, si Calida. Just like kay Sereno, he was the one," said Duterte.
(The truth is, it was Calida who researched that. Just like in the case of Sereno, he was the one.)
Calida was behind the quo warranto petition that ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice in May.
"Si Calida, medyo bright na matino (he is a bit bright and straight). 'Pag sinabi ng SolGen may mali (When he says something is wrong), and this has to be corrected, I cannot refuse. He is the government lawyer," he said.
He also maintained Trillanes failed to comply with the requirements for an amnesty.
"Before you can give a pardon or amnesty, you have to know, you have to declare your guilt. And place it on a narrative para alam namin, alam ko, kung ibibigay ba namin ang amnesty o papaniwalaan ko (so that we know, I know if we will give amnesty or I will believe it)," Duterte said.
It was Aquino, Duterte's predecessor, who granted Trillanes amnesty.
Trillanes has said he had complied with all requirements and challenged Duterte's proclamation before the Supreme Court.
Duterte expressed deference to the judiciary on the case.
"Let the court decide on it. Whether he should return to jail because that's where he came from," Duterte said.
"Now if the Supreme Court says my proclamation is invalid, let it fall. But sabihin ng Supreme Court sa akin, as head of the department, anong kasalanan, anong pagkakamali ko diyan (If the Supreme Court tells me that, as head of department, where is my fault, what did I do wrong)?" he added.
The Department of Justice has pending pleas before the Makati Regional Trial Court for a warrant of arrest and hold departure order against Trillanes.
In a press conference at the Senate, Trillanes denied Duterte's accusations.
"Lahat ng iba't ibang kampo, nagpagawa tayo ng iba't ibang infrastructure, whether barracks ng enlisted men, club rooms ng mga opisyal, quarters ng mga opisyal. Sa lahat ng mga iba't ibang kampo sa buong Pilipinas. Alam ng sundalo 'yan," he said.
(In different camps, we built various infrastructure, whether barracks for enlisted men, club rooms or quarters for officials. Soldiers know that.)
"Ako rin po ang principal author ng AFP Modernization Law. 'Yung mga binibili niyang gamit, hindi magagawa kung wala ang AFP Modernization Law," Trillanes said.
(I am also the principal author of the AFP Modernization Law. All the equipment he is now procuring, he cannot do that without the AFP Modernization Law.)
According to Trillanes, he was also the principal author of the Salary Standardization Law 3, which increased state workers' pay, and pushed for an executive order under the Aquino administration that raised the salary of military personnel.
"Ang dinoble lang niya (Duterte), private lang ah. Ang mga opisyal, mas mataas sana ang kikitain nila kung 'yung executive order ni President Aquino ang ginamit. Lahat 'yan, instrumental tayo diyan," Trillanes explained.
(What he doubled, that's only for privates. For officials, they will get a higher pay hike if we used President Aquino's executive order. I was instrumental in all that.)
For Trillanes, Duterte is wooing the military to use them as a "tool for oppression."
"Ano ba ang hangarin niya? Bakit niya nililigawan ang Armed Forces? Dahil ba gusto niya ba na talagang maayos ang kapakanan nila? Hindi, dahil gagamitin niya na tool for oppression," Trillanes said.
(What's his motive? Why is he courting the Armed Forces? Is it because he wants to ensure his welfare? No. Because He will use them as a tool for oppression.)
Duterte voided Trillanes' amnesty in a proclamation on August 31, a document made public on Sept. 4.
Trillanes was charged with coup d'etat and rebellion before the Makati Regional Trial Court and violation of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) before a military court.
The cases stemmed from the Magdalo band of soldiers' takeover of the Oakwood Premier luxury apartments in Makati City in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula hotel in 2007.
In both instances, the group protested alleged corruption under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Trillanes won a seat in the Senate in 2007, campaigning from detention, and was reelected in 2013.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trillanes, who ran but lost his bid for the vice presidency, campaigned against Duterte. He has also accused Duterte's family of having hidden wealth.