MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said his predecessor erred in granting amnesty to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
In an interview with his chief legal counsel, Duterte said it was wrong for former President Benigno Aquino III to let then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin sign the amnesty of Trillanes.
"Gazmin signed the amnesty itself. It is not possible to do that. Why? Because an act of pardon or amnesty is an act of state. It cannot be delegated to anybody but only to the president," he said.
Duterte earlier accused Gazmin of usurping authority for signing the amnesty of Trillanes. However, former Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda insisted Gazmin "acted lawfully."
"There is a lawful designation by the President and the proclamation authorizing the Department of National Defense and its head, actually, Voltaire Gazmin, to look into it," Lacierda said.
The President also claimed that the amnesty given by the past administration was just a motherhood statement and did not include any particular name.
"The procedure was totally wrong, in the sense that they just issued the proclamation, no particular names. They just issued a motherhood statement to cover the individual acts," he said.
Duterte voided Trillanes' amnesty on August 31 and ordered the restoration of criminal and administrative charges against the lawmaker. His proclamation was made public Tuesday last week.
Prior to his amnesty grant, Trillanes was charged with coup d'etat before a 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 Trillanes' and the Magdalo band of junior military officers' takeover of the Oakwood luxury apartments in Makati City in 2003 and of the Manila Peninsula hotel in 2007.