Philippines’ president Duterte revokes amnesty of chief critic, orders arrest
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday revoked amnesty given to an opposition senator involved in a failed coup 15 years ago and ordered his arrest, in what would be the second detainment of a senator critical of the president.
Senator Antonio Trillanes, Duterte’s most vocal opponent, has repeatedly accused the president of asset concealment and backs complaints lodged with the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking his indictment over the alleged murders of thousands of criminals and drug dealers.
An executive order printed in the pro-Duterte Manila Times newspaper said amnesty given in 2010 to the former military serviceman was voided because he had not met the minimum requirements to receive it, including admitting his guilt.
The order instructed the justice department and armed forces to pursue criminal and administrative cases against Trillanes, while police and the military were ordered to arrest him and put him in detention to face trial.
Trillanes called it “a stupid executive order” and said he would not resist arrest or try to escape.
“It’s a clear case of political persecution,” he told reporters at the Senate.
If Trillanes is arrested, he would be the second member of the 24-seat Senate to be detained under Duterte, joining Leila de Lima, a former justice secretary held for 18 months after being accused of facilitating drugs deals in national jails.
Both are critical of Duterte and his war on drugs and have led Senate enquiries into his role in alleged executions of criminals by police, both while president and when mayor of southern Davao City. Duterte denies wrongdoing.
The ICC in February started a preliminary examination into a complaint against the president, which accuses him of crimes against humanity.
Duterte is currently on an official visit to Israel and his spokesman was due to brief reporters there later on Tuesday.
Trillanes was granted amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino for involvement in a failed 2003 coup and mutiny in 2007.
Both incidents were against then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, an ally of Duterte who in July became speaker of the lower house.
“This incident, should be clear to everyone that Mr. Duterte is a dictator,” Trillanes said.
“He does not respect institutions. That is why we’re like this: ordinary people are killed and critics are jailed.”
Asked about arresting Trillanes, police spokesman Benigno Durana said any order given by judicial authorities would be complied with.