President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was conniving with the Communist Party of the Philippines to depose him from office, warning the public to keep an eye on the opposition senator, the communists, and even the Liberal Party of the Philippines, as the three “pray” for his ouster.
“Those three, watch them closely. The yellow Liberals, Trillanes, and the [communist] politburo… Watch them closely, those three. They are all connected,” warned Duterte in a speech during his arrival from a week-long visit to Israel and Jordan.
Duterte said Trillanes, who recently made headlines following the sudden revocation of his amnesty, was currently “collaborating [and] sleeping with the enemy.”
“We will show it to you. To the soldiers, before you jump into conclusion, ask your Intelligence [Service] first and they will show you. It [the information] is not for public consumption, but when the right time comes, and if I’m compelled by the Supreme Court to say, ‘Now state your case,’ I will expose everything. But it will be detrimental as they will know where we get [the information],” said Duterte.
“Now, they don’t know [our sources]. I even said, ‘It’s being supplied by a foreign power, not here.’ But if you really want [to know], to the military who have strong ideals, just ask your Intelligence community,” said the President, stressing that Trillanes, the Liberals, and the communists were plotting his ouster.
“Coup d’etat, coup d’etat, it’s nonsense. The word does not even appeal to me at all. If you’re an idealist or a man with principles, watch those three. They are the ones who will oust me and it will go into a higher [level next] October,” he added.
The President made the remarks when asked if there was a need to do a loyalty check among the military and the police forces.
Duterte, however, stressed he did not need loyalties, sharing he frankly told the military ranks to focus their loyalty to the flag of the Philippines, and the Constitution.
“I was elected as President and I intend to serve. But if somehow there is anything that is really demanded of the moment, then there is no problem,” Duterte said, implying the possibility of a movement to overthrow him.
“Do not bring me the armor or anything. Just tell me. We can have coffee, I’ll invite you and I will—well, anybody who is interested, I will administer the oath. Now, what will follow is not my problem,” said Duterte.
“So, there are many ways: impeachment, mutiny, coup d’état, everything. Well, I only work. If the Filipino people does (sic) not want my service then I will step down. That should not be a problem,” he added, pointing out he would not let the armed forces and the police to wage war against each other.
“For me to order [them] to shoot at each other, I will not do it. Find another president. I will not do it,” he said.
On the declaration to nullify Trillanes’ amnesty, Duterte admitted he could not refuse Solicitor General Jose Calida’s request to investigate the conditions of the amnesty granted to the senator.
Duterte said it was Calida’s initiative to review the amnesty given to Trillanes, triggering its revocation through a presidential proclamation.
Duterte signed Proclamation 572 on Aug. 31 that revoked Trillanes’ amnesty given by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.
In the proclamation, Duterte said Trillanes—who urged Filipinos Saturday not to vote for candidates on Duterte’s slate—did not file an Official Amnesty Application Form as per certification dated Aug. 30, 2018, issued by Lt. Col. Thea Joan Andrade, stating “there is no copy of his application for amnesty in the records.”
The President admitted that Calida, whom Trillanes accused of cornering government contracts to the security agency owned by Calida’s family, had initiated the research on the circumstances of the granting of amnesty to Trillanes.
“I cannot refuse because I have no power. I have to enforce the law,” Duterte said.
“It was Calida who did all the research on Trillanes’ amnesty just like what he did to Sereno. You know, Calida is bright,” Duterte said, denying there was any politics behind it.
“If the solicitor general said there’s a mistake and it has to be corrected, I cannot refuse,” the President said.
Duterte, a former Davao prosecutor, explained the power to pardon and the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress was a presidential power and it could not be delegated to anybody else.
The President also insisted that the amnesty allowing the senator’s release was void.
“ Therefore his getting out of custody was also void because there was no basis. The amnesty was defective [and] fatally flawed,” Duterte said.
Trillanes accused Duterte of ordering his arrest because he was the most vocal and prominent critic of his administration.
The senator described the executive order as “stupid” and vowed to resist the order.
Duterte has said Calida is a government lawyer. As a President, he said he could not insist on another view since the proclamation was already recorded as a public paper.
“So, whatever he put down in that, I will believe it. If I doubted him in the first place, I [would] already have him disposed somewhere else,” said Duterte.
He added: “The power to pardon and the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress is a presidential power. It cannot be delegated to anybody else. That’s a constitutional mandate.
“In the first place, the amnesty allowing his [Trillanes] release was void. Therefore, his getting out of custody was also void because there was no basis. The amnesty was defective [and] fatally flawed.”
Duterte said he would leave the execution of arresting Trillanes in the hands of the Judiciary department.
“It’s already at the Supreme Court. We leave it at that. If the Supreme Court would say my proclamation was null and void, then let it fall. But if I’m affirmed or sustained, then it’s [up to] the military now,” Duterte said
Duterte said it was the President’s prerogative to have the power to pardon and grant amnesty with the concurrence and the agreement with Congress.
“Now, what is the lesson there? Why did I target him? Well, I only have one word: “Do not do unto others, what you would not want them to do unto you.”
On Aug. 31, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 572, declaring the amnesty given to Trillanes as void from the very beginning for failing to comply with the “minimum requirements to qualify.”
In 2011, the opposition senator was granted amnesty by then President Benigno Aquino III after he applied for the program following his involvement to destabilize the government under the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
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