At present, much of the chatter surrounding the voiding of the amnesty granted by then President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III to “senator” Antonio Tillanes in 2010 revolves around whether that action was legal or not. That is because lawyers enjoy disproportionate celebrity amongst the chattering cliques of partisans that populate the national discourse. But in so focusing on mere legalities, the Philippines’ foremost “thought leaders” miss the more important points surrounding this circus.
“Senator” Trillanes was one of a number of Filipino ex-military personnel who mounted a rebellion against the government of then President Gloria Arroyo in 2003 and again in 2006. When he came to power in 2010, Aquino issued Proclamation 50 granting amnesty to Trillanes allowing him to escape accountability for these crimes. This raises questions that should be directed to people who supported that proclamation back when it was first granted.
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What is the real justification for that amnesty Trillanes enjoyed under Aquino’s graces over the last several years? For those who supported it, we must ask, Why did you support it back then?
After all, Trillanes’s crimes were really and truly serious. He betrayed the trust Filipinos gave him as an officer in the military and went off to use the resources under his command to mount an assault on a civilian government and endanger thousands of Filipino lives. What has Trillanes done to make amends for those crimes that makes him deserving of amnesty? It seems that the only things that were going for Trillanes then and up to now were quaint narratives spun by partisans who held personal biases.
Back then, no less than the eminent constiutionalist Father Joaquin Bernas issued gushing words to justify Trillanes’s crimes…
They [the alleged mutineers] went through elaborate ceremonies which were meant to be symbolic of their noble goal. They seem to have considered their deed a patriotic feather in their cap and they will willingly assert that, yes, we did, even if we now regret having done it.
The words used in Proclamation 50 itself did not, in any way, articulate any better a justification other than to spell out the following nebulous principles:
(1) “there [was, at the time,] a clamor from certain sectors of society urging the President to extend amnesty to said AFP personnel”;
(2) The Constitution says the President can; and,
(3) It was in line with Aquino’s aspiring “to promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring peace”.
Note that in all of the above, there was no reference to the unresolved question of Trillanes’s culpability as one of the senior officers involved in the alleged rebellions made within the tenets of Proclamation 50. Nor was the unnecessary danger he and his team had exposed innocent civilians to in the course of mounting their alleged adventurism even mentioned.
So now with all that in hindsight, perform a simple thought experiment and strip off all reference to partisan loyalties and any names associated with such loyalties from the above several paragraphs and ask a similar question: Would you support the granting of amnesty to people who enaged in the above activities?
Seen under that light, it quickly becomes evident that there is absolutely no basis for justifying any such amnesty to anyone who engaged in the sort of military adventurism Trillanes and his mob led in the early- to mid-2000s. That is the important point that needs to be discussed — not the perverted legalese being exchanged with verbose pomposity by the many lawyers (and lawyer wannabes) who populate social media chatter. The right question is often the simplest one:
Does “senator” Antonio Trillanes deserve the amnesty granted him by Aquino in 2010 to begin with?
See if you can answer that question without referring to any of the Opposition notions and narratives.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.