Much ado over nothing

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After getting over his fear of possible arrest following the revocation of his amnesty, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV shamelessly took advantage of the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed 2019 budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to quiz military officials on the issue.

The senator pointedly asked AFP chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. whether or not he applied for amnesty.

Answering Trillanes’ query, Galvez referred to the affidavit of Col. Josefa Berbigal and said that according to her the senator applied for amnesty.

It was Berbigal who reportedly processed the senator’s application for amnesty. Trillanes included her affidavit among the papers he submitted before the Makati courts during the hearings on the prosecution’s motion for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against him.
Naturally, Trillanes’ camp rejoiced and took Galvez’s answer as a sort of a victory. Several news outlets even reported that Galvez confirmed the senator indeed filed an application for amnesty.

If anything, what Trillanes accomplished was to delude himself into thinking he had built a strong case to prop his claim of complying with the requirements for the grant of amnesty.
To put things into perspective, President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 572 revoked the amnesty granted to Trillanes for being “void ab initio.”

The proclamation noted that there are two important requirements before the amnesty could be granted. First, the applicant personally fills up the Official Amnesty Application Form and File it. Second, the applicant must also admit his guilt for the crimes committed.

While Trillanes had shown videos, photos and reports purportedly indicating he filed such an application, he has yet to produce his filled and signed up amnesty application form. That is the best documentary proof that he indeed applied for amnesty.

Even a cursory reading of Galvez’s statement would reveal he has no personal knowledge of the events that transpired during the amnesty application process.

Besides, presidential spokesman Harry Roque noted that all these issues are already in the hands of competent courts. One of the courts has already said the pictures and everything else Trillanes adduced as evidence are not enough to prove he filed an application for amnesty.

In fact, if Trillanes would insist on newspaper reports and videos as proof, it would only serve to incriminate him.

A 25 January 2011 online report quoted Trillanes saying that “while they admitted to ‘violating some rules,’ they were not admitting guilt to the mutiny and coup d’etat charges lodged against them both in the civil and military courts.”

The same report said Trillanes and his group “never regretted participating in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.”

Trillanes had accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte of abusing its power in going after him.

On the contrary, despite the proclamation, President Duterte made good on his promise to respect the law and ordered the police and military not to arrest Trillanes unless there is a valid arrest warrant issued by the court.

It was actually Trillanes who abused his privilege as a senator when he turned the AFP budget hearing into some sort of inquisition against the military in a bid to extricate himself from his legal woes.

And like his previous misadventures, it was another fail for Trillanes.

He should instead expend his energies looking for his missing papers to defend himself in court rather than trying to raise much ado about nothing.

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