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Tribunal voids Duterte order revoking former rebel soldier’s amnesty

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THE PHILIPPINE Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the validity of the amnesty given to a former senator and rebel soldier, nullifying ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order.

The President did not have the power to void Antonio F. Trillanes IV’s amnesty without congressional approval, the tribunal ruled in a decision written by Justice Ma. Filomena D. Singh.

“The court also grounded its ruling on the primacy of the Bill of Rights and reaffirmed that neither the government nor any of its officials, including the President, are above the law,” the court said in a statement on Wednesday night.

The High Court struck down Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572, which in 2018 revoked the 2010 amnesty given to the former senator by the late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III. Mr. Duterte also ordered government prosecutors to revive rebellion and other charges against him.

Mr. Duterte said the amnesty was void because Mr. Trillanes had failed to file the official amnesty application form and admit guilt for his crimes.

The top court said Mr. Duterte’s proclamation violated Mr. Trillanes’ constitutional rights against double jeopardy and ex post facto laws, which punish actions retroactively.

The tribunal also said there was “convincing evidence” that Mr. Trillanes had filed his amnesty request.

“The decision affirms that in balancing the exercise of presidential prerogatives and the protection of the citizens’ rights, the Constitution and the laws remain as the court’s anchor and rudder,” the Court said.

In 2003, Mr. Trillanes led more than 300 junior officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a mutiny against the government of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The rebels occupied the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center (now Ascott Makati), an apartment tower in Makati City, to protest rampant state corruption.

The mutiny lasted only 18 hours. Mr. Trillanes and his men were charged in a general court martial. He was detained for more than seven years.

Four years later, Mr. Trillanes, Brigadier General Danilo Lim and 25 others charged in the Oakwood mutiny walked out of their trial and marched toward the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati.

They seized control of the hotel and called for the ouster of Ms. Arroyo.

The coup was over by 5:10 p.m. after government troops broke through the hotel. Mr. Trillanes and Mr. Lim surrendered supposedly to avoid the loss of lives. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana

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