Tracking the people and paper trail of Antonio Trillanes’ amnesty granted in 2011

September 10, 2018 - 5:05 PM
Six personalities have attested to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's application for amnesty that granted him pardon on the cases he was previously involved before he entered the legislature. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Following Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV’s controversial amnesty revocation, certain personalities have released their testimonies on his application in support of the embattled senator.

Trillanes has previously released a video that showed him filing his application before the Ad-Hoc Committee on Amnesty in January 2011.

In a privilege speech to the Senate last Sept. 4, 2018, Trillanes denied that the amnesty was void “ab initio” and stressed that he has already admitted guilt in the mutinies in 2003 and 2007.

He presented screenshots of his amnesty application form and a signed copy of the amnesty granted to him by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“I swore under oath, dito sa application na ito. Diyan, I admitted my guilt based doon sa application form that the Department of National Defense provided,” Trillanes said.

Meanwhile, six personalities who witnessed Trillanes’ amnesty application have shared their respective testimonies on the issue.

Former President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino 

Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino approved Trillanes’ amnesty through Proclamation No. 75 dated Nov. 24, 2010.

In a media interview, Aquino said, “The fact that he applied, went through the process and was granted amnesty means that it was valid. It was not void.”

He added that amnesties are granted to former Philippine soldiers to “start anew.” Under Article VII, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution, a president can grant amnesty with the concurrence of the Congress.

Aquino noted that granting amnesties has not been questioned “for the past seven to eight years.”

President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of the Malacañan Palace on February 16, 2015. (Malacañang Photo Bureau/Rey Baniquet)

The former president also quoted a Resolution from the Ad-Hoc Committee of the Department of National Defense.

He said, “This January 25, 2011 document, signed by the Defense Chief, says that his application is in order and as such, he is qualified for amnesty. So, he did apply. I am making a statement by presenting a pertinent evidence, rather than relying on recollection.”

“And so absent a court order, where is the authority [to arrest him without arrest warrant] coming from, given that his situation does not fall in conditions allowed for warrantless arrest,” Aquino stressed.

He added that he is willing to attest to the amnesty’s validity if needed. “If I’m called to be a witness, I have no problem with that,” Aquino said.

Former DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin 

Former Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was the one who approved the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on granting Trillanes’ amnesty.

According to him, the senator followed the entire process of the application. “As far as I can remember, all those who were granted amnesty went through the process,” Gazmin said in a statement.

He also added that he would “get in touch with the Ad Hoc committee so that facts can be refreshed.”

Former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that Trillanes has dutifully followed the amnesty application process. (The STAR/File photo)

On Jan. 25, 2011, Gazmin wrote a letter to Aquino that read: “After careful review and deliberation, the Committee found their applications to be in order and the applicants qualified for amnesty.”

Trillanes’ name was the first on the list of applicants. The letter noted that their application was not opposed within the first 15 days of publication.

“Wherefore, premises considered, the Committee hereby resolves, as it is hereby resolved, to recommend to the Secretary of National Defense the approval of the application for amnesty under Presidential Proclamation No. 75,” it stated.

Former DND Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta 

Former Department of National Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta was the one who handled Trillanes’ application. He confirmed that the senator has complied with the prior requirements needed.

“Obviously. That’s why on records he was granted amnesty,” he said through a text message.

“I can honestly say that as chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Amnesty, I conscientiously did my job in accordance with the Proclamation No. 75 and its rules,” Azcueta continued.

DND Spokesperson Dir. Arsenio Andolong

Department of National Defense Spokesperson Director Arsenio Andolong confirmed that a ceremony happened in Camp Aguinaldo in January 2011 when Trillanes and the others applied for amnesty.

“May seremonyang ginawa dito sa Aguinaldo, nagkapirmahan sila ng form, unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of that document,” he shared in an interview.

Apparently, the amnesty applicants took their oath of allegiance to the Constitution on Jan. 27, 2011.

Former Magdalo Rep. Francisco Acedillo

Former Magdalo Representative and now security analyst Francisco Acedillo shared pictures that showed parts of the Ad Hoc Committee’s resolution, including his own certification of amnesty.

He was one of the Magdalo junior officers who filed an amnesty with Trillanes.

In the pictures he provided, all of the officers were referred to as “ex,” indicating that they had already left their military positions at that time.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano 

Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano shared pictures of the documents on Trillanes and the others’ cases as presided by Branch 148 and 150 of the Regional Trial Court in Makati.

— Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos; Additional photos from Toto Lozano via MindaNews, UNTV News and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction