Other amnesties on the line as Duterte officials spout contradicting remarks

September 28, 2018 - 1:45 PM
Should the public and pardoned mutineers go by the statement of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque or that of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra? (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

For presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV is the only one among 2003 mutineers who has to be worried about his amnesty application and potential time behind bars.

“I daresay that the fact that he is the acknowledged leader of the Magdalo mutineers is a reasonable basis for singling Trillanes out,” Roque said in an interview.

“In effect, the message that government is sending is: It’s enough that we punish the leaders. We will not bother with the rank and file, but it’s important to hold the leader accountable for his past acts,” Roque added.

But this position is not something that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra shares.


Gueverra admitted that the government is not just looking at reviewing Trillanes’ amnesty, but also the amnesty granted to others.

“That’s the matter being reviewed by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) people — to check whether the other members of that group, the Magdalo group, might have also not complied,” Guevarra said in an interview.

“So I’m not preempting them, but my understanding is that their cases might be reviewed or opened,” he added.

Malacañang’s order revoking the amnesty former president Noynoy Aquino granted to Trillanes in early September would be a striking precedent, condemned by many as an attempt by the administration to silence dissent.

The order claims to be based on Trillanes’ failure to follow procedure in applying for the amnesty, as his missing documents with the Department of National Defense suggests.

This was despite the presidential grant and Congress concurrence erasing the crimes of Trillanes and rebel soldiers who staged a coup against the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

So which is which?

The contradicting statements of Roque and Guevarra were not lost on those who observed that it was a case of “political persecution.” Among them is Trillanes’ fellow mutineer and Magalo party colleague Gary Alejano, a congressman.

Some have identified those who can possibly be included in the revocation, should DOJ stick to its words.

Office of Civil Defense Deputy Administrator Nicanor Faeldon, who was involved in the 2003 and 2007 coup d’etat, previously said that he was willing to be jailed should his amnesty be questioned.

There’s De Lima before him

While Guevarra insisted that the administration was not targeting Trillanes, the order to revoke his amnesty came from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Sen. Trillanes has been allied with the Liberal Party while not being a member himself. The LP is a leading opposition party, which the chief executive has accused of planning supposed ouster plots against him. The LP has repeatedly denied the claims.

It is also not the first time that Duterte and his Cabinet officials have singled out political rivals. Duterte previously accused Sen. Leila De Lima, who years ago launched an investigation into his culpability in killings in Davao, of being involved in the New Bilibid Prison drug trade.

While in detention, De Lima has not stopped criticizing the chief executive’s policies and actions, most notably his deadly war on drugs.

In 2017, Trillanes, along with Alejano, filed a communication at the International Criminal Court accusing Duterte of crimes against humanity in conduct of the anti-drug campaign. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos