Amnesty is given to a group rather than an individual. Once granted, it is final and irrevocable. This is according to critics of President Duterte’s order, served yesterday, for the arrest of Antonio Trillanes IV after the amnesty issued to the opposition senator during the presidency of Noynoy Aquino was junked by Malacañang as invalid.
Not surprisingly, Trillanes is challenging the order. Aquino had issued Proclamation No. 75 dated Nov. 24, 2010, with Congress concurring a month later, granting amnesty to soldiers who staged the Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the standoff at the Marine headquarters in February 2006, and another incident at the Manila Peninsula in November 2007.
Trillanes, a Navy lieutenant at the time, participated in the Oakwood and Peninsula incidents. Yesterday, Malacañang released Duterte’s Proclamation 572 dated Aug. 31, revoking the amnesty and ordering Trillanes’ arrest effective immediately. Trillanes, according to the order, failed to comply with requirements in Aquino’s proclamation for the filing of an official application for amnesty as well as admission of guilt on charges of staging a mutiny and coup d’etat.
President Duterte’s order was announced as Trillanes’ Senate committee was conducting a hearing on charges of conflict of interest involving Solicitor General Jose Calida and businesses owned by his family.
Trillanes has been incarcerated in the past, and detention never silenced him. Malacañang is standing by the validity of President Duterte’s order, and the government probably does not care if Trillanes cries political prosecution. But this is the first time that an amnesty grant is being withdrawn. To avoid the arbitrary grant and withdrawal of amnesty, rules must be fine-tuned and compliance monitoring tightened.
This move will not only disrupt the life of Trillanes but may also have an impact on peace initiatives with rebel groups. Just like the controversial quo warranto route for removing an impeachable official, the government must consider the precedent being set in withdrawing an amnesty grant.