Good afternoon Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. I rise on a personal and collective privilege on an ongoing issue which has far-reaching implications to the justice system and stability of the country.
On September 4, 2018, Presidential Proclamation Nr. 572 dated August 31, 2018 was released in public revoking the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV more than 7 years ago. Accordingly, the granting of amnesty to Trillanes is void ab initio – a term popularized by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Before proceeding to shed light on the issue, let me state that this is a clear political persecution against Sen. Trillanes through a unilateral decision of the president employing baseless accusations.
I understand that the issues surrounding the revocation of amnesty of Sen. Trillanes have already been reported by media. Let me reiterate the issues for record purposes and for those who are not yet aware of the issue.
The main basis of the revocation were (1) non-appearance in the filing of application of amnesty and (2) the non-admission of guilt on the part of Sen. Trillanes
The non-appearance is asserted by virtue of the certification of certain LTCOL Joan Andrade, one of the division Chiefs in J1, AFP which stated that no records available in her office
Further, because of the revocation the AFP and PNP were mandated to employ “all legal means” to arrest Sen. Trillanes.
As to the personal appearance of Sen. Trillanes in the filing of his amnesty applications, I can attest that he filed personally and took an oath before the administering officer. Sabay po kaming-nag apply. In fact, on that day January 5, 2011, 19 officers applied kasama si Sen. Trillanes at 20 enlisted personnel. Secondly, the filing on that day was widely covered by media. Let me play the video recorded by DZRH as reported by Beng Formento. (refer to attached video)
Admission of guilt
As to the other assertion that Trillanes did not admit guilt of offenses committed, this is wrong. The amnesty applications already contained the provision of admission of guilt. Please see the screen. It is stated there;
“I hereby acknowledge that my involvement/participation in the subject incidents constituted a violation of the 1987 Constitution, criminal laws and the Articles of War. I hereby recant my previous statements that are contrary, if any, to this express admission of involvement/participation and guilt.” (refer to attached Form for Amnesty Application) Lahat ng maaaring paglabag.
Then, the applicant affixes his signature.
In the VERIFICATION portion, the applicant affixes his signature again and both thumb prints before the administering officer. Hindi naman tatanggapin ng administering officer kapag kulang ang entries sa applications.
So ganyan ang proseso: the form is filled up by the applicant; personally submitted to the DND Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee; the committee then checks the completeness of the application; the applicant personally affixes his signature at thumb prints in front of the administering officer; tapos susumpaan niya ito.
Nasa Committee ang form at wala akong maalala na may kopya kami ng application forms. Di naman ito transmittal letters na may received copies.
Remember, ang Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee ay temporary lamang as its name connotes. It was created to receive and process amnesty applications under Proclamation 75 issued on November 24, 2010. It was disbanded after it served its purpose. Now, as to who among the members and which office took the amnesty records, that is the question. We should also note that the officers or head of offices in the DND and AFP just come and go. The amnesty records could be kept somewhere in the premises of Camp Aguinaldo.
I heard in the news that a certain DND official said that the certification does not mean “walang records”. Hindi lang available at the time of certification. However, ang tanong, kung hinahanap pa lamang ang amnesty records bakit one day after ng certification ay pinirmahan na kaagad ang Proclamation 572? Ang certificaation ay dated August 30, 2018 and the Proclamation is signed August 31, 2018.
They should have exerted all efforts to locate the records within the Department before deciding on issuing a very controversial proclamation. Kulang sa tinatawag na completed staff work ang Solicitor General.
Bakit ang Proclamation ay nilabas ng September 4, 2018 kahit ito ay napirmahan na ng August 31, 218? Anong significance nito? Last September 4, 2018 was the schedule of the investigation sa Senado of the alleged multi-million worth of contracts of the security agency owned by Calida sa gobyerno. Therefore, nais pagtakpan ni Sol Gen Calida ang isyung ito.
Background lamang sa mga kaso para maintindihan ng taumbayan. Lahat ng nag-participate sa Oakwood incident ay nakasuhan ng iba’t ibang kaso sa ilalim ng articles of war. Dahil kinasuhan ang 31 sa amin ng coup d’etat before RTC Branch 148, lahat ng charges sa court martial were dropped. With the imminent granting of bail on our case, the AFP decided to file admin cases against the 31 in order for the AFP to reacquire jurisdiction on us. Dahil makakalaya kami sa piyansa.
As to criminal cases filed against us before RTC Branches 148 and 150, DOJ was surprised that these were all dismissed in 2011. Ang hawak nilang records ay dated 2010 lang. Ano ngayon ang tatayuan ng pag-request ng hold departure order and alias warrant?
Sa court martial naman, administrative cases lamang ang kinaso kay Sen. Trillanes. Administrative cases have its maximum penalty of separation from service. Walang punitive actions dito gaya ng pagkakakulong.
Even without amnesty which was issued on 2010, Sen. Trillanes was already a civilian as early as February of 2007 when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2007 national elections where he was deemed resigned as per Section 66, Article IX of the Omnibus Election Code. It reads;
Sec. 66. Candidates holding appointive office or positions. – Any person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.
The AFP General Order 515 dated February 6, 2007, a discharge order, was issued to this effect.
Sen. Trillanes was also issued command clearance which means that he has no more liabilities and accountabilities in the Armed Forces, kasama na ang anumang pending na kaso sa Ombudsman o sa court martial man.
And because of this, Sen. Trillanes was able to claim his separation benefits from the AFP.
Nagpapakita ito na talagang “cleared” si Sen. Trillanes.
Gazmin usurped authority
On the issue that former Sec. Voltaire Gazmin usurped the power of the president in granting amnesty, aside from this was not stated in Proc 572, I believe that the president is wrong on this.
Ang nag-grant ng amnesty through Proclamation 75 ay si former President Aquino at hindi si Sec. Gazmin. Sec. Gazmin was merely tasked or given authority under Section 2 of Proclamation 75 to receive, process, and approve the application for amnesty.
Kaya nag-create ng DND Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee exactly to perform what Proclamation 75 stated them to perform.
The Ad Hoc amnesty Committee recommended approval of the amnesty applications through a resolution forwarded to Sec. Gazmin which he approved.
Sec. Gazmin in his letter apprised the granting authority, in this case Pres. Aquino, of the status of the application. The letter clearly stated there “for His Excellency’s information”.
The president granted the amnesty, DND processed and approved the applications.
There must be an assumption of regularity sa lahat ng proseso na ginagawa ng gobyerno. Kapag ang isang Pilipino ay nabigyan na ng driver’s license, passport, voter’s ID, PhilHealth, GSIS, SSS, marriage contract, o birth certificate, hindi na hinahanapan ng application forms. Dito sa atin, kapag ikaw ba ay lilipad palabas ng bansa, hahanapin ba ng immigration officers ang inyong application form ng passport kahit pinakita niyo na ang passport mismo?
Kung ikaw ay nahuli ng traffic enforcer sa EDSA, ano ba ang hahanapin? Application form ng driver’s license o driver’s license?
Ganun din sa amnesty. Ang importante ay ang certicate of amnesty at hindi ang application form.
Peace and stability
The unilateral decision of the president has a far-reaching effect to peace and stability in the country.
Amnesty is a political tool of a government in order to erase past political crimes committed by group of people in order for the country foster unity, to start anew, to have clean slate in governance. The root word is ‘amnesia’ which means forget and forgive. It is as if nothing happened, no offenses committed, no offenders committed a crime.
Hindi lamang kami ang maapektuhan but also those who availed of the amnesty before us and those who will avail in the future.
Let us take for example those who availed of amnesty after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. For some reason, hindi ka gusto ng present administration, pupwede bang hanapan din sila ng application forms after 32 years dahil ang kanilang amnesty certificate ay hindi enough? Is this not ridiculous?
We have different rebel groups in the country, and there were negotiations that took place.
LIST OF PROCLAMATIONS GRANTING AMNESTY
Can they trust the government in granting amnesty if it can easily revoke it after some time?
We just passed the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Part of which is the granting of amnesty to its members of the MILF. Can they trust the government na hindi sila babalikan pagdating ng panahon?
Maraming problema ng kinakaharap ang ating bansa gaya ng sinabi ko kanina; sobrang taas na bilihin, kakulangan ng supply ng murang bigas at isda, TRAIN 1, multi-billion na kontrata ng pamilya ni Bong Go, multi-billion na halaga ng kontrata ng security agency ni Calida sa gobyerno, patuloy na patayan sa giyera kontra-droga, mullti-billion na shabu na hanggang ngayon ay di pa rin alam ng gobyerno kung sino ang mga nasa likod.
Maingay ang oposisyon sa pagpuna ng mga ito. Di ba dapat ang mga problemang ito ang unahing hanapan ng solusyon ng gobyerno kaysa tinatarget at iniipit ang mga oposisyong nagpupuna ng mga problemang ito?
If we allow this brazen attempt to violate the rights of Sen. Trillanes, mawawala na tayo sa isang demokrasya. Nasa isang diktadurya na tayo. Ikaw at ako ay maaari nang maging biktima.