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At Large

Getting behind Trillanes

/ 05:06 AM September 09, 2018

Sen. Sonny Trillanes is (or as rumors go, used to be) a co-homeowner in the same Antipolo village. Some years back, he was said to have organized other “Magdalo” homeowners who had moved into the same village to run for the homeowners’ association. They won the voting and, if I remember right, their first project was to install a CCTV system in our subdivision. Quite expected, I thought, of a group of former military men who had once used a luxury hotel in Makati to, depending on one’s point of view, stage an attempted coup or simply call attention to “corruption” in the military.

Strangely enough, I never did get to see the senator in the streets of the village. But then again, neither am I the outgoing sort.

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I didn’t even vote for him. When he first ran for senator even while still inside prison, I thought he was little more than an adventurist, leading a band of disgruntled and idealistic soldiers. A fellow journalist jokes that what finally compelled the “Magdalo” men to surrender to authorities was their exasperation at the unruly media covering their mutiny. Still engraved in my mind is the increasingly frustrated face of Capt. Milo Maestrecampo shouting in vain at the mess of reporters and camera operators to settle down so that their “press con” could begin. I think that facing the ordeal of having to deal with such a rambunctious bunch for many more days, the Magdalo preferred the peace and quiet of a military prison.

Eventually some of the Magdalo putschists (including Maestrecampo) would publicly apologize for the Oakwood mutiny and be released. But Trillanes (almost literally) stuck to his guns and was detained for more than seven years. Still, despite his detention, Trillanes ran for and won a Senate seat in 2007 and while attending hearings on whether he should be allowed to serve out his term, ended up walking out of the courthouse and holing up inside the Manila Peninsula.

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In 2010, Trillanes was granted his provisional freedom by the Supreme Court after a grant of amnesty by President Noynoy Aquino. He would eventually run for reelection and emerged ninth out of the victorious 12.

This Aquino amnesty is the same document that was rescinded recently by President Duterte, who initially said the documents covering the amnesty could not be found and that Trillanes had not even apologized publicly for his role in the Oakwood and Peninsula disruptions.

The latest on the issue is that PDuts, in a meeting with the media in Davao, admitted that it had been Solicitor General Jose Calida “who did the research to support the issuance” of Proclamation No. 572 voiding the grant of amnesty to Trillanes.

This ties in with the early claim by the senator that Calida was behind the entire mess of the amnesty revocation because Trillanes was about to begin an investigation into the SolGen’s contracts with government bodies for his family’s security agency.

Indeed, in the days since the news of the amnesty revocation broke out while PDuts was in Israel, the Duterte administration’s operations against staunch critic Trillanes have seemed to lose much steam.

Trillanes has since brought the issue before the Supreme Court, in the face of many reports and analyses by legal and professional experts that Mr. Duterte’s actions, especially the order to the police to immediately arrest Trillanes and for the military to restart court martial proceedings against the senator, were not only flawed and questionable, but also illegal and unconstitutional.

Still, civil society organizations, faith-based groups and supporters of Trillanes are still gathering at the Senate premises, where Trillanes has sought sanctuary, in a show of support and protest in the event the police and military move against the senator.

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As I said earlier, I’m not exactly a fan of Trillanes and in fact didn’t vote for him both times he ran (and won) for the Senate. But on this issue he has my full support. In these days of sycophants occupying almost every branch and agency of government, we need the likes of the senator to sound the call for independence and probity.

rdavid@inquirer.com.ph

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TAGS: amnesty revocation, Antonio Trillanes IV, At Large, Magdalo, Milo Maestrecampo, Oakwood mutiny, revocation of amnesty, Rina Jimenez-David, Rodrigo Duterte
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