Duterte: SolGen did research on amnesty

Edith Regalado - The Philippine Star
Duterte: SolGen did  research on amnesty
The President said it was Calida’s research that paved the way for his issuance of Proclamation 572 effectively voiding the amnesty that former president Benigno Aquino III granted to Trillanes in 2010 for the latter’s role in the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003.
Miguel de Guzman

DAVAO CITY  , Philippines  —  The truth is out. It was Solicitor General Jose Calida who did the research used as basis to void the grant of amnesty to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, President Duterte revealed yesterday.

The President said it was Calida’s research that paved the way for his issuance of Proclamation 572 effectively voiding the amnesty that former president Benigno Aquino III granted to Trillanes in 2010 for the latter’s role in the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003.

“Yung kay Trillanes, alam mo ang totoo niyan ang nag-research, si Calida, just like kay Sereno (On Trillanes, you know the truth is Calida did the research, just like in the case of Sereno),” Duterte said, referring to Maria Lourdes Sereno whose ouster as chief justice through quo warranto – instead of impeachment – was reportedly contrived by Calida.

The President said he could not afford to ignore or refuse legal advice from Calida, whom he described as “quite bright” and matino (upright).

“Pag sinabi ng SolGen may mali (If the SolGen says something is wrong) and this has to be corrected, I cannot refuse,” the President said upon arrival yesterday at the Davao International Airport from Israel and Jordan.

But the President said he’d rather not expound on the issue as the Supreme Court is already deliberating on it.

“It’s already at the Supreme Court. We leave it at that. If the Supreme Court would say my proclamation was null and void, then let it fall,” the President said. 

“In the first place, the amnesty allowing his release was void. Therefore his getting out of custody was also void because there was no basis. The amnesty was defective, fatally flawed,” the President said.

He stressed he was only enforcing the law and that whatever flaw is found in Trillanes’ amnesty, it should be corrected.

“He is the government lawyer. I am not, though I am a mayor or a mayor and a President, I cannot insist, especially in view of the fact it was already recorded as a public paper,” the President said, referring to Calida.

“So kung ano ‘yang sinabi niya doon, then ‘yun ang paniwalaan ko. Eh kung hindi ko pinaniwalaan ‘yan si Calida eh di mat... Itinapon ko na ‘yan sa… ewan ko kung saan (So whatever he says, I believe. If I don’t believe in Calida then I’d rather dump him…I don’t know where,” the President added.

Duterte also stressed that the matter of granting pardon and even amnesty is a constitutional mandate of the President.

“It cannot be delegated to anybody else. It’s a constitutional mandate. The power, the President has the power to grant pardon and amnesty with the concurrence of Congress,” he added.

“You know, as a lawyer, you will ask me, and I will just advance my answer to you. What’s your basis? I cannot discuss with you the merits. I do not know if the... it has been filed but or if it is already assigned to a division,” he said.

Friends with Gazmin

He said he knew there were questions regarding Trillanes’ amnesty but he chose “not to rattle the boat” as he has friends even in the other political camp.

Even in the Armed Forces, Duterte said he has many friends, including former defense chief Voltaire Gazmin who recommended and approved the granting of amnesty to Trillanes.

“Si Volts ang nagrekomenda tapos siya rin ang nag-apruba…lahat sila may tama dyan (Volts recommended and approved…all of them was at fault),” the President said, referring to Gazmin by his nickname.

Gazmin, Duterte pointed out, could be charged with usurpation of authority.

Duterte said he and Gazmin had been friends for a long time and that they used to drink till the wee hours in the After Dark Piano Bar in Davao City.

“This is the problem – it was Gazmin who was probably one of those who investigated the case – the coup de’ etat, the mutiny or rebellion at the very least. Then he recommended for the amnesty of everybody,” the President said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Duterte again cited Trillanes’ reported failure to comply with the requirements for amnesty.

“The problem is there are requirements. One is that you have to do it in a particular office in the Armed Forces of the Philippines organization,” he said.

“And it must be J-1 administrative. J-2 is a… J-3 is intelligence,” he added.

“I hope that it would not get to this far. Remember we never started the ruckus. It was all Trillanes pretending to be a crusading soldier, when as a matter of fact, wala naman silang ginawa (he did nothing),” he added. 

Gazmin earlier said Trillanes and the others granted amnesty followed required procedures. “As far as I can remember all those who were granted amnesty went through the process,” Gazmin said in a text message to reporters.

He said he was getting in touch with the Ad Hoc committee “so that facts can be refreshed as these happened many years ago.” 

The Department of National Defense Ad Hoc Committee was then chaired by now Col. Josefa Berbigal, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Judge Advocate General Office (AFP-JAGO).

It was Berbigal who administered the oath to Trillanes in 2011 when the latter’s amnesty application was approved.

She was in a closed door meeting with key defense officials last Thursday. Details of the meeting were not made public.


Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra dismissed as “purely coincidental” the voiding of the amnesty for Trillanes and the filing of a libel case against him just days later.

Guevarra was downplaying insinuations that the voiding of Trillanes’ amnesty through Proclamation No.572 and the filing of a libel case against him were part of an orchestrated plot to bring down Trillanes.

Duterte’s son and former vice mayor Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Manases Carpio filed libel cases on Sept. 6 against the senator, whom they accused of defaming them in a radio interview with allegations that they had extorted from Uber and other groups regulated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

President Duterte’s Proclamation 572 was signed last Aug. 31 and was disclosed to the public only last Sept. 2 when he was in Israel.

Carpio is the husband of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

 “The timing of the filing of the libel complaints vs. Senator Trillanes, according to the complainants, had nothing to do with the nullification of the senator’s amnesty. The libel complaints were filed on the anniversary date of the utterance of the allegedly derogatory defamatory statements,” Guevarra explained.

“The timing was purely coincidental with the amnesty issue,” he added.

The justice chief promised not to intervene in the libel cases.

Davao City Assistant Regional Prosecutor Karl Andre Salcedo received the libel cases.

“No, I will not interfere in the conduct of the preliminary investigation. It is not proper,” he added.

But just as government prosecutors were examining the libel cases, Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras said yesterday he too is planning to sue Trillanes – possibly for inciting to sedition.

Paras said Trillanes’ calling on the military not to follow Duterte’s order to arrest him was tantamount to inciting to sedition or even rebellion.

In a phone interview, Paras said he and his lawyer-friends are now studying cases that could be lodged against Trillanes over the “shortened statements” he made during media interviews at the Senate after Duterte revoked his amnesty.

The case will likely be filed next week with the Pasay City regional trial court. “We believe we have a strong case against Trillanes because he incited the soldiers to disobey the President.  He committed a very serious crime,” he noted.

He added Trillanes also insulted Duterte by questioning his capability to lead the country.

Paras also accused Trillanes of plotting a coup against the President.  –  Evelyn Macairan, Jaime Laude, Sheila Crisostomo 

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