Trillanes can't be tried under court martial: ex-AFP chief Biazon


Posted at Sep 08 2018 06:20 PM

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV shows documents on his amnesty during a press briefing at the Senate in Pasay City. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) no longer has jurisdiction over Senator Antonio Trillanes IV since he is already a civilian, its former chief said Saturday.

Former Chief of Staff and Senator Rodolfo Biazon said Trillanes was already deemed a civilian when he ran for public office.

"He (Trillanes) is simply now a civilian. When a soldier files his certificate of candidacy to the Comelec (Commission on Elections), that is his resignation (from the military)," Biazon told ANC.

"Trillanes has resigned from the Armed Forces, therefore, military courts no longer have jurisdiction over him," he added.

Trillanes won a seat in the Senate in 2007, campaigning from detention. He was reelected in 2013.

He and several other rebel soldiers were granted amnesty by President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, in 2011, leading to his release from detention.

But in a proclamation dated Aug. 31, Duterte withdrew Trillanes' amnesty and ordered the restoration of criminal and administrative charges against the lawmaker.

As a Navy lieutenant, Trillanes and his Magdalo band of junior military officers occupied the Oakwood Premiere hotel in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula hotel in 2007 to protest alleged corruption under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The AFP on Friday said it was convening the general court martial to try Trillanes after the nullification of his amnesty.

Trillanes, however, insisted that a court martial no longer has jurisdiction over him since he is already a civilian.

"They can convene the court martial all they want pero hindi na ako subject sa ganiyan. Alam ng buong mundo sibilyan na ako, senador na ako," he told reporters Friday.

(I am no longer subject to that. The whole world knows I am a civilian, a senator.)

The opposition senator on Wednesday presented a copy of his ipso facto resignation dated May 2007, his statement of service and service clearance issued July 2007, and his certificate of last payment issued August 2007 to prove he was no longer active in military service.

Biazon said the issue on the amnesty of the former mutineer goes beyond Trillanes himself, as it deals with the credibility of legal processes in the country.

"This issue is all about the credibility of our Constitution, the credibility of our legal processes, credibility of institutions in this country," he said.

Trillanes has challenged Duterte's nullification of his amnesty before the Supreme Court.