Duterte nullification of Trillanes amnesty 'nothing but an arrest order' - lawyer

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2018 11:25 AM

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MANILA - A lawyer of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV believes the burden of proof is on the side of the state to show that President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation voiding Trillanes' amnesty is constitutional.

Proclamation 572, published earlier this month, was "nothing but an order of arrest," said Trillanes' lawyer, former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law Pacifico Agabin.

"This proclamation is presumed to be unconstitutional because on its face, you can see that it infringes on a fundamental freedom, which is the right of a person, whether he’s a senator or a tricycle driver, to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures," he told ANC's Headstart.

"The burden of proof is for the state to prove that they have the authority to arrest Trillanes or initially, they have to prove that this proclamation is not unconstitutional," he said.

The Duterte order also infringes on Trillanes' freedom of political expression as it could be a way for the chief executive to " silence him or at least moderate his criticism, said Agabin.

Singling out Trillanes in the amnesty nullification also violates the lawmaker's right to equal protection, he said.

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the amnesty given to Trillanes, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, had caught the eye of Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Trillanes, head of the Senate Civil Service and Government Reorganization panel, initiated an investigation into the alleged conflict of interest in government contracts of Calida's security firm on the day Duterte's proclamation was published in the papers.

"As stated by our Supreme Court if a government authority acts with an evil eye or an uneven hand, it violates the equal protection clause because the equal protection clause is also a protection against oppression and arbitrary actions—whether you are president, solicitor general, or mere soldier," said Agabin.

Agabin said he appreciates that Duterte has backtracked on his proclamation, saying instead that he will wait for a civilian court to issue an arrest warrant against Trillanes. This might be because the chief executive "realizes that he has been badly advised."

Trillanes 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.

Agabin, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, law professor Joselito Chan, and Reynaldo Robles comprise the lawmaker's legal team.