Trillanes, 18 other mutineers apply for amnesty
- Alexis Romero () - January 6, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday applied for amnesty but maintained that he does not regret joining the uprisings against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom he described as “the most corrupt president this country ever had.”

Trillanes and 18 other Magdalo officers submitted their application forms to the Department of National Defense (DND) Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee at about 2 p.m. in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Trillanes said their application for amnesty does not mean that they are pleading guilty to coup charges.

“It’s (coup) a technical charge that has elements that needs to be proven… Let me be clear, we admit guilt as far as rising up against the most corrupt president this country ever had,” the former Navy officer told reporters.

Trillanes, however, admitted that he and his companions in Magdalo broke some rules to pursue their advocacy.

“We are man enough to admit that we have broken rules in the pursuit of a moral cause and we faced it like men. We were imprisoned and the others were separated from the service so it’s very easy for us to agree to that (admission of guilt),” he said.

Trillanes was referring to the amnesty requirement, which states that applicants should acknowledge that they violated the Constitution, the articles of war, or existing laws when they joined anti-government uprisings.

He said their decision to avail of the amnesty does not mean that the Arroyo administration has been absolved of its misdeeds.

When asked what he would tell Arroyo in case he meets her in a bicameral conference, Trillanes said: “We don’t need to say anything to each other. Of course, we are civil. We are not barbarians so as much as we can, let’s avoid such a meeting.”

He said it feels good setting foot in the AFP General Headquarters as a senator.

“This (amnesty) is a milestone in our lives. This is a step towards ultimate freedom. We welcome this opportunity to serve this country once again,” he said, adding that he is ready to push for laws that would benefit the military, including a measure raising soldiers’ combat pay, updates on the National Defense Act, and amendments to the AFP Modernization Law.

A total of 39 former rebel soldiers, 19 of them officers, applied for amnesty yesterday, bringing the number of applicants to 58.

Trillanes was one of the leaders of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny where rebel soldiers decried the supposed corruption under the Arroyo regime.

The former Navy officer ran for senator under the Genuine Opposition ticket in the 2007 midterm elections and won. He, however, was not allowed to participate in sessions due to his pending coup case.

In 2007, Trillanes and other rebel soldiers walked out of a court hearing in Makati to stage what is now called the Manila Peninsula hotel siege.

Last month, he walked out of the Camp Crame Custodial Center after the Makati Regional Trial Court granted his petition for provisional freedom. He was placed under the custody of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

The camp of Trillanes said the provisional liberty may have been granted due to the amnesty proclamation issued by Malacañang, which was signed by President Aquino last month, granting amnesty to military personnel accused of trying to oust the Arroyo administration.

The amnesty covers 378 officers and enlisted men and would remove the criminal liability of successful applicants.

Enlisted personnel with the rank of technical sergeant and below would be entitled to a reinstatement.

The Senate and the House of Representatives separately concurred with the amnesty proclamation last December.

Those who want to apply for amnesty must personally file their application with the DND within a period of 90 days.

The DND started accepting applications last Monday.

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