MANILA - Several lawmakers on Tuesday condemned the issuance of an arrest order against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, saying the administration has been prioritizing its "crackdown" on critics instead of solving economic problems.
Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 heeded the petition of the Justice department to issue a hold departure order and an arrest warrant against Trillanes, weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte voided an amnesty granted by the Aquino administration to the former mutineer in 2011.
Duterte's Proclamation 572 that invalidated Trillanes' amnesty over his alleged failure to file an application with a clear admission of guilt reinstated the rebellion charges against the former Navy lieutenant.
"Taumbayan ang nakakalimutan habang pinipilit na patahimikin si Sen. Trillanes at iba pang kritiko ng gobyerno," Senator Bam Aquino said.
(The people have been forgotten while the government is busy silencing Senator Trillanes and other critics.)
"Kahirapan at taas-presyo ang kalaban, hindi ang oposisyon," he said.
(The enemy is poverty and high prices of commodities, not the opposition.)
Senator Grace Poe echoed the same sentiments and called on the administration to focus on the rising prices of basic commodities.
"Ako po ay mas nababahala pa rin sa pagsadsad ng presyo ng piso kontra dolyar, pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at bigas, pati na ang pagtaas ng inflation rate," Poe said.
(I am more worried about the decline of the peso against the dollar, rising prices of gasoline and rice, as well as the rising inflation rate.)
"Instead of being tough on inflation and the rice crisis, instead of mustering the needed political will to address the country's economic slowdown, he (Duterte) wastes his time and energy, as well as precious government resources, on trying to obliterate the democratic opposition," Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros called on the public to "amplify the voice of dissent and reason" amid the government's "looming crackdown on the opposition."
"The issuance of the warrant is part of the government's attempt to intimidate political critics and a looming crackdown on the opposition," Hontiveros said.
"Dissent deepens democracy. Dissent, under President Duterte's despotic rule, is the highest form of patriotism," she said.
Trillanes is the second opposition senator arrested under the Duterte administration.
Senator Leila de Lima, who headed a Senate investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings under the administration's war on drugs, was jailed in February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the drug trade in the national penitentiary.
The Senate will have to "remain efficient" despite the jailing of some of its members, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who prohibited arresting officials from serving the warrant inside the Senate premises.
"Ganun talaga, life goes on eh. We just have to move on," Sotto told reporters.
"Whatever it is, haharapin namin and then do our work. Tuloy trabaho," he said.
Trillanes posted a P200,000 bail at the Makati RTC. He intends to return to the Senate once he gets his temporary liberty.