This is not just about Senator Trillanes

The nullification of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty is not surprising for those who are standing up against the tyrant in Malacañang. Remember that a month ago or so, former Bayan Muna Representatives Teddy Casiño and Satur Ocampo, former National Anti Poverty Commission lead convener Liza Maza and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano or collectively dubbed as the Makabayan 4 were ordered arrested for trumped up murder charges filed against them some 12 years ago.

There’s a big difference between Trillanes and the Makabayan 4 on how they stand on issues. The Makabayan 4 who have been in the people’s movement for decades consistently fought for the people’s rights and welfare while Trillanes is a traditional politician. The similarity is that all of them are critics of the Duterte regime and both are being persecuted because of their political stand.

It’s worth to note how the regime worked to silence its prominent critics. In the case of Makabayan 4, a two-decade case was revived against them. The Palayan Regional Trial Court Branch 40 Judge Evelyn A. Atienza-Turla issued a one-page resolution dated July 11 saying that there is probable cause for the double murder charges filed against the four and consequently ordered their arrest — no explanation, no hearing and no new witnesses presented. There is also a question on the integrity of the witnesses who filed the case against them as they did not undergo standard operating procedure like presenting themselves before the prosecutor among others.

Read: Fabricated charges against Duterte’s critics resurrected

Now Trillanes is also facing arrest as Duterte, through Proclamation 572, voided the amnesty granted to him by President Benigno Aquino III in 2011. The Proclamation said that Trillanes did not apply for amnesty and did not admit his guilt. Duterte then ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “pursue all criminal and administrative cases against Trillanes in relation to the Oakwood mutiny in 2003” and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007.

BULATLAT FILE PHOTO: 2016 commemoration of martial law in Luneta Park. (Photo by Gino Estella/Bulatlat)

Trillanes was among the then young officers called as Magdalo who demanded the resignation of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the late Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes who they accused of corruption.

But Duterte’s claim was debunked by Trillanes through his privilege speech at the Senate yesterday, Sept. 4 where he showed a video clip of him filing for amnesty.

The document that will show that Trillanes indeed filed for amnesty is also missing. According to a report, AFP Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff Personnel has “no available copy” of Trillanes’ amnesty application. However, Director Arsenio Andolong, Department of National Defense spokesperson clarified that the application is only missing and does not mean that Trillanes did not file an application. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/666662/no-available-copy-of-trillanes- amnesty-application-on-file-dnd-spokesperson/story/?utm_source=GMANews&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=news

Trillanes has been a vocal critic of Duterte and his son Paolo Duterte who he alleged was involved in illegal drug trade in the Philippines.

Malacanang denied that there is politics behind the nullification of the amnesty but Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo’s statement somehow contradicts this.

Panelo said in a report, “Naghahasik siya ng lagim. Nagtatanim siya ng poot sa pamahalaan at sa Presidente, mga akusasyon na hindi naman niya napapatunayan. Lumalabag na siya sa batas.

Another probable reason could be that Trillanes has initiated an inquiry into the million-peso contracts awarded by the government to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s security agency.

If this is not a curtailment of freedom of speech, then what do we call it? Could this be a cover up? Is this not political vendetta?

Let us remember that this is not the first time that the Duterte regime attacked its critics. There is the case of Senator Leila De Lima who is still languishing in jail, former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who was ousted, and the filing of trumped-up charges against scores of activists who are made to suffer in jails for years for the crimes that they did not commit. What’s worse, many are getting killed fighting for their rights.

Even foreigners standing in solidarity with the Filipino people also get the taste of Duterte’s tyranny such as Australian nun Patricia Fox who’s facing deportation and Prof. Gil Boehringer who was not permitted to step on Philippine soil and was flown back to Australia.

As human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares said during the gathering of supporters and families of the Makabayan 4 last July, this regime does not tolerate dissent. He said that the issue is beyond the arrest of the Makabayan 4, it is about the people whose democratic rights are being trampled upon for voicing out their grievances against the government.

The message of the government is clear: that those who oppose and criticize Duterte will not be tolerated.

But will the people allow it?

So much lives have been sacrificed fighting for genuine reforms in the country, many of them were killed or tortured during the martial law of 1970s. We should not fail the martyrs and those who fought for the restoration of democracy by letting the tyrant lead the country again and curtail whatever freedom that we and our children enjoy today.

We should unite. Go out to the streets and join the Sept. 21 rally at Luneta. Add your voice to the growing dissent against Duterte. ()

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