MANILA - The nullification of Sen. Antonio Trillanes' amnesty should serve as a reminder to future recipients of the same privilege to comply with its requirements, the country's chief peace broker said Wednesday as the plebiscite for an autonomous Moro region nears.
The proclamation signed by President Rodrigo Duterte voiding Trillanes' amnesty was specific only to the former mutineer, said Jesus Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
Asked if this should worry others who might apply for amnesty in the future, Dureza said: "No. That should even strengthen those who would like to avail of the amnesty later to see to it that they comply to the letter of the requirements of the amnesty."
"It’s a good guidance already…It’s a good learning for everyone na pag mag-amnesty ka, wag kang parang easy-easy lang na you take things for granted," he told ANC's Early Edition.
Amnesty for the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front "will come at the proper time," which is hopefully within the Duterte administration, said Dureza.
A plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law is scheduled for January 21, 2019. It is one of the requirements under a 2014 peace agreement between the government and the MILF.
Signed by Duterte after his 2018 State of the Nation Address, the law will install a Bangsamoro political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and is envisioned to grant wider self-rule to predominantly Muslim provinces and cities.
More than 100,000 MILF combatants and officials are expected to be covered by an amnesty under Duterte, said Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the rebel group.
A Makati court on Tuesday ordered Trillanes' arrest on rebellion charges weeks after Duterte's proclamation saying the former soldier failed to formally apply for amnesty and did not admit guilt was published on newspapers.
The administration critic posted bail and is holed up once again in the Senate chambers while awaiting another court's decision on separate coup d'etat charges.
'WE DID NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED'
But Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who was among the soldiers that staged the military uprising against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo along with Trillanes, said they did not take the amnesty proceedings "for granted."
He said they submitted their application form when they applied for amnesty and the head of the committee even testified that they complied with the requirements.
No copy of the form was given to them because "that is not the process," he said.
"This is a message to the future applicants of the amnesty: you cannot really rely on this tool of the government in providing peace and stability in the country," he told ANC's Headstart.
Alejano, who was charged with the same complaints as Trillanes, said these were "dismissed by virtue of the Proclamation 75 granting us amnesty," pertaining to the proclamation signed by former President Benigno Aquino III.
"It was dismissed in 2011 and when they requested for warrant of arrest, we believed that it will not happen because there are no more cases to stand on," he said.
"Nagulat nga kami bakit nabuhay bigla 'yung kaso because we believe that they have to determine first the validity of the amnesty. That should be the first issue to be addressed and that is a constitutional issue because the Congress was involved in that," he added.
Duterte's proclamation initially cited Trillanes' supposed failure to formally apply for the amnesty and to admit to his criminal offenses. Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo later said the amnesty was invalid because the certificate was signed by then-Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by Aquino.