Much ado about Trillanes

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“The current predicament of Trillanes is his own doing; it is simply the past catching up with him.

As a former associate professor of the UP College of Law who taught for 15 years, here are my insights into the voiding of the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV within the bounds of sub judice:

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Proclamation 572 declares the amnesty given to Trillanes in 2010 void ab initio or not valid from the very beginning. This means that his status now is his status before the granting of amnesty. It is as if the amnesty was never granted at all. To be clear, we are not undoing the amnesty. It was never effective in the first place. There is nothing to undo because it was never valid from the very beginning.

In view of this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has stated that the court martial proceedings against Trillanes will now continue. As some of you may recall, Trillanes was charged both for offenses tried before civilian courts and service-related offenses that are punished under the Articles of War.

Trillanes will be tried under court martial, as the latter has continuing jurisdiction over violations of the Articles of War and these violations cannot be tried by civilian courts.

Some have argued that Trillanes can no longer be tried under court martial, as he effectively resigned from military service when he ran for public office in 2007. However, the act of resignation does not undo the violations of the Articles of War that he committed while he was in still in military service.

The material point Trillanes must address before the proper forum: whether he did, in fact, meet all the conditions for the grant of amnesty. Based on the review of the relevant government agencies, it appears that he did not. This factual question must be settled by the appropriate court and we have repeatedly pointed out to Trillanes that the courts are open to him.

For that matter, he has not hesitated to apply for legal remedies. He sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC) to prevent the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 572. The SC denied the application for TRO. Given the Court’s denial of application for TRO, there is no legal impediment to implementation of Proclamation 572.

Finally, I must reiterate that this is not a case of political persecution or vendetta. In issuing Proclamation 572, the President was merely exercising his obligation to implement the law. It was made clear to him that amnesty was granted to someone who did not meet the conditions for it and so he acted to correct the situation.

As I have already stated previously, the current predicament of Trillanes is his own doing; it is simply the past catching up with him.

Having said this, I have never denied that there was a time I supported the cause of Trillanes and his Magdalo group. In fact, I even posted a Christmas tribute in my blog entry which is now making rounds on social media and is being used by my critics and detractors of the Administration.

I likewise admit that I was one of the signatories to the petition urging former President Benigno Aquino III, in the spirit of peace and reconciliation, to grant amnesty to the active and former officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP who stood against the Arroyo administration.

However, the issue is not whether I believed Trillanes should be granted amnesty or not. The issue is whether he met the conditions for amnesty or not.

I supported Trillanes and considered him as a friend, but we parted ways years ago when he engaged in a witchhunt against former Vice President Jejomar Binay. Now that I am with President Duterte, Trillanes himself has said that our relationship is merely one of acquaintance.

I thank President Duterte for the respect and understanding he has given me. In one public event, the Chief Executive said, and I quote: “He (Roque) is a very critical guy. He does not really care if you are a friend or not. And I like him to be that way.”

For those unduly fixated on my ties with Trillanes, I hope this puts the issue to rest.

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