MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed the claim of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV applied for amnesty, contrary to the Duterte administration's basis for voiding such grant.
In a budget hearing at the Senate, Trillanes confronted Galvez and asked him to clarify the issue about his amnesty.
Galvez confirmed that Col. Josefa Berbigal, former head of the amnesty committee secretariat, administered Trillanes' oath but that the documents were not in their repository because of some “lapses.”
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained the government’s position that Trillanes did not file his amnesty application correctly.
He told the senator’s camp to just present their “received copy” of the amnesty application so that the issue would be resolved.
“There’s visuals that he applied for amnesty, but the question is, where is the form? It all boils down to where is the form, and the form is important because the form contains the admission of guilt which is a sine qua non (essential) requirement for the grant of amnesty,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
“Unfortunately, we are governed by the rules of evidence. Best evidence rule. You have to prove first and foremost why you don’t have the original document. He’s unable to produce it… It’s actually a way of curing this. I cannot imagine why they have not done it.”
Roque said despite Galvez’s claim, the words of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda weighed more for him.
Alameda earlier ordered Trillanes’ arrest for rebellion charges filed against him for his role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, ruling that the senator failed to back his claim that he filed his amnesty application.
Trillanes made bail soon after his arrest.
The former Navy officer's lawyer Rey Robles earlier admitted to Alameda that the senator could not yet find his copy of the amnesty application. Robles instead offered a copy of a news video showing the senator filing his amnesty application.
“He made an interview. He was not willing to confess to any crime, so he must have gone for the purposes of visuals, and for purposes of the news, but when it came to actually complying with the requirements of the law, it is lacking,” Roque said.
"One court has said that the pictures and everything else that Senator Trillanes adduced are not enough and, of course, I concur as a lawyer. Certainly, you don’t expect me to take the side of Chief Galvez who was not a lawyer over the words of a learned judge."
Duterte on Aug. 31 issued a proclamation voiding Trillanes' amnesty for the senator's alleged failure to comply with two conditions: apply for amnesty and admit guilt.
The President cited as evidence a certification from Lt. Col. Thea Joan Andrade from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (J1) stating that "there is no available copy of his application for amnesty in the records."
Trillanes has insisted that the amnesty granted him during the Aquino administration is valid and that he followed procedure, and showed videos and documents to prove this.
Duterte's proclamation revived charges filed against Trillanes for leading uprisings against government in 2003 and 2007. Apart from the rebellion case over the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, Trillanes is facing a coup d'etat case for his role in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.