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Guevarra says Duterte is not out to muzzle opposition: De Lima, Trillanes are not the type who shut up in jail

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra denied that President Rodrigo Duterte was out to silence vocal dissenters under his administration by either putting them to jail or kicking them out of their posts.

Guevarra was reacting to claims that the Duterte’s Proclamation 572 voiding the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for his mutinous acts during the Arroyo administration was part of a disturbing series of moves meant to silence the opposition.

Senator Leila de Lima has languished in detention for drug charges brought up by Solicitor General Jose Calida. Former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno was ousted on the initiative of Calida. Trillanes is now being harassed for an amnesty granted in 2011 which Duterte, allegedly on the prodding of Calida, argued was void from the start just like Sereno’s appointment.

“Well, I don’t think (it’s a trend)! Because going by what we have seen Senator de Lima, Senator Trillanes, are they the type of persons that you can file cases like these? I don’t think so,” said Guevarra in an interview with ANC’s Karen Davila.

“It can happen to anyone. It just so happened that in the case of Senator Trillanes, merong nakitang ganoon deficiency, so be it,” he added.

The Department of Justice has filed a motion seeking the immediate arrest of Trillanes and Guevarra expected the former Magdalo officer to be detained soon even if Congress was still in session.

“That warrant of arrest has to be served wherever the accused is really found. The accused in this particular case is not immune from arrest even if he is a Senator of the Republic . Because the constitutional provision pertaining for immunity from arrest while Congress is in session as it is now would pertain only to a situation where the offense charge is punishable by not more than six years,” he said.

“So yung mga minor crimes huwag mo nang molestiyahin ang ating members of Congress kung sila ay in session. But if the complaints or the charges carry a penalty of more than six years that means serious na iyan. As to this case coup d’etat punishable by life imprisonment, then the members of Congress involved is not immune from arrest even while Congress is in session,” he added.