MANILA - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra denied Wednesday that opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was being singled out in the government's amnesty review.
Guevarra explained that it was "natural if not logical" that the amnesty review began with Trillanes because he is the most prominent member of Magdalo, the group of junior military officers that staged uprisings against government in 2003 and 2007.
“We’re not saying that the government is picking on him and being selective. It just so happened that he is the most vocal and the leader of the pack, so to speak, so it was just natural if not logical to start with him,” Guevarra said.
Police arrested Trillanes on Tuesday after a Makati City court granted the Department of Justice's request for a warrant of arrest and hold departure order against him over revived rebellion charges for the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
On the same day, the opposition senator posted a P200,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
This came after President Rodrigo Duterte voided the amnesty granted Trillanes by former President Benigno Aquino III over his supposed failure to formally apply for one and express guilt for his role in the 2007 siege and the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
Duterte's order directed the DOJ and the military to pursue criminal and administrative proceedings against Trillanes.
Guevarra also explained that Trillanes’ challenge to the validity of Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 before the Supreme Court would depend on the Makati courts' findings.
Apart from the rebellion case before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150, which issued the arrest warrant against Trillanes, the lawmaker is facing a separate coup d'etat case before the Makati RTC Branch 148.
“The determination of whether Proclamation 572 is valid or not valid will have to await the resolution of the factual issues of the trial courts so the Supreme Court will have to depend on the findings of facts by the RTC, then it (SC) will determine the validity of the president’s issuance, of Proclamation 572,” he said.
Guevarra added that former mutineers belonging to Trillanes' Magdalo group may also have their amnesty revoked depending on the outcome of a review by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“We cannot take away that risk that if found to be deficient or non-compliant with the requirements for the grant of amnesty, then any person who may not have complied may suffer the same situation as Sen. Trillanes," Guevarra said.
"But for now we are dealing with this particular case, so we’re focusing our attention on that muna pansamantala (for the meantime),” he added.