MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday maintained that the proclamation issued by President Rodrigo Duterte which voided the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is not deficient, even if the main argument the chief executive is now harping on was not included in it.
Duterte has said former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s supposed usurpation of authority in granting amnesty to Trillanes made the act invalid. He said only then president Benigno Aquino III was authorized to grant amnesty.
Aquino’s spokespersons, Abigail Valte and Edwin Lacierda, however, said it was still within Gazmin’s power to sign the amnesty certificate.
Aquino, through Proclamation No. 75 Series of 2010, granted amnesty to Trillanes and several other military rebels in 2011, leading to their release from detention. According to Valte, the task delegated was the determination of those qualified for amnesty, not the granting of the amnesty itself.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, meanwhile, said the usurpation allegation against Gazmin was not included in the proclamation, which voided Trillanes amnesty because the soldier-turned-senator did not file an Official Amnesty Application Form and also "never expressed his guilt for the crimes that were committed.”
"Kung alam nila, tingin nila na basehan 'yan, they should have included that as basis," Alejano told reporters.
"President Aquino ang pumirma pero doon sa loob ng Proclamation 75, may section 2, saan tayo mag-apply inatasan ang [Department of National Defense] to receive, process and approve. He is informing the president of the status of applications," he added.
But Roque maintained Duterte and the Palace’s position on the matter and said there is no need to modify or issue a new proclamation just to reflect the government’s latest argument against Trillanes’ amnesty.
“No need because the case is now before the Makati courts. The Makati courts will address issues brought before it,” he said in a press briefing.
“The court will require further findings on the part of the government and Trillanes. That can be ventilated in court.”
Roque was referring to the coup d'etat and rebellion charges against Trillanes before 2 Makati courts for allegedly leading failed military uprisings in 2003 and 2007 against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Both cases were dismissed in 2011 after Aquino granted him amnesty, but the government sought to revive these charges through Duterte’s proclamation, with the justice department asking them to issue warrants of arrest against Trillanes.
The two courts have set hearings on the cases.