A soldier must only follow legal orders, says ex-AFP chief on Trillanes' arrest

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2018 11:31 AM | Updated as of Sep 11 2018 12:00 PM

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MANILA - A soldier should "follow only legal orders" from his superior, including those from the commander-in-chief, former Armed Force chief of staff Rodolfo Biazon said Tuesday, as eyes remain trained on the possible arrest of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

In his proclamation voiding Trillanes' amnesty, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military and the police to "employ all lawful means to apprehend" the former mutineer.

The lawmaker has asked the Supreme Court to block Duterte's withdrawal and has been holed up in his Senate office, since arresting officers were barred from the building.

"If it’s very apparent that the order being issued is illegal, our oath of office says that we must only follow legal orders," Biazon said, adding that he would initially have to study the president's order.

"Understanding, for example, the gravity of the nature of amnesty, then I will say this order is illegal and I will not just immediately disobey; I’d probably will have to go to my boss," he told ANC's Headstart.

Biazon said he pities the soldiers who went to the Senate because they were "being ordered to arrest somebody--not just somebody, a senator of the Republic--without being able to show a written and signed" warrant.

"If this goes to court, if it redounds to the crime of illegal detention, sino ang mananagot? Dapat may managot. Yung pumirma ng arrest order (Who will be liable? There should be someone held liable. It's who signed the arrest order)," he said.

QUESTIONING OTHER INSTITUTIONS

The invalidation of the amnesty granted to Trillanes also raises questions on the decisions of Congress and the Commission on Elections, said Biazon.

Duterte said Trillanes' amnesty was void from the beginning because he failed to formally apply for it and to apologize for his crimes. Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the amnesty certificate was signed by then-Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by then-President Benigno Aquino III, rendering it invalid.

Biazon said questioning the amnesty granted by Aquino also casts doubt on Congress, which concurred with the President's order, as well as Comelec, which allowed Trillanes to run for public office.

"This issue is larger than the individual and personal case of Sen. Trillanes. It drives into the very heart of our belief in our institutions—the institution of the Constitution, the institution of legal processes, the institution of our laws," he said.

"We can never allow the erosion of our belief, of our conviction, our trust in all of these institutions," he added.

He said a copy of Proclamation 75, as signed by Aquino and his executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa, on November 24, 2010, can be retrieved from the Official Gazette.

Biazon, who was a district representative when the houses of Congress concurred with the amnesty grant, said the president cannot unilaterally revoke such grant because it is a "shared power between the chief executive and the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines."

"The revocation of that amnesty so granted can only be effected, can only be done, can only happen with the other half of the authority of the power, which is Congress," he said.

"The basic principle is the grant of amnesty is absolute...Maybe, what they should consider is - are there offenses committed by the personnel after the grant of amnesty? If they did commit offenses after the grant of amnesty, they should be charged in court," he added.