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‘Di muna maaaresto: Iwas aresto! Trillanes now in Senate custody

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By Xave Gregorio

Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has been placed under the custody of the Senate to avert his arrest, which he and the Senate minority bloc deem illegal.

This was what Trillanes told reporters in a briefing after meeting with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III Tuesday afternoon (September 4).

“I was placed under the custody of the Senate President. Until my lawyers will file the necessary petition sa Supreme Court para ma-resolve itong kalokohang ito ni Duterte at ni [Solicitor General Jose] Calida,” Trillanes said.

“This is a warrantless arrest, as I mentioned, so we need to fight this warrantless arrest na ito,” he said.

However, Sotto said Trillanes was not exactly placed under the Senate’s custody.

“You can look at it that way, but the thing is, and I have consulted some of the members of the Senate already, to preserve the dignity of the Senate we have to not allow any senator to be arrested in the Senate premises,” Sotto told reporters.

“Outside the Senate premises, that’s no longer our concern, ano,” he continued.

Until his lawyers would be able to craft his next legal move against President Rodrigo Duterte’s voiding his amnesty, Trillanes said he would remain in the Senate, even on weekends.

But Sotto said Trillanes’ stay in the Senate would have “some limitations,” depending on the decision of the majority of the members of the chamber.

Trillanes is not the first lawmaker to take refuge in Congress. In 2006, five militant congressmen took shelter in the House of Representatives complex as they faced arrest over rebellion raps.

Around 40 members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group accompanied by members of the military trooped to the Senate to serve Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572, which declares the amnesty granted to Trillanes by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as void from the start.

The proclamation, published in full in The Manila Times, said “the grant of amnesty to former LTSG Antonio Trillanes IV under Proclamation No. 75 is declared void ab initio because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Proclamation.”

However, Trillanes insists that he would not have received amnesty unless he applied for it and admitted guilt.

“‘Yung sinasabing application, lahat ‘yun, ginawa ‘yun, complied with. Ito binabaluktot nila ‘yung batas para lang magawa ‘yung kanilang political objective, which is to persecute the political opposition,” Trillanes said.

The Senate minority say Trillanes could not even be arrested as the amnesty he and 50 other Magdalo mutineers received led to the dismissal of the rebellion charges against them.

“He is a senator and under the Constitution, he cannot be arrested while Congress is in session, except for crimes for which penalty is beyond six years. In this particular case, there is even no case. There is no case, with more reason that Constitutional protection will apply,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

If he gets arrested, Trillanes would become the second opposition figure to be jailed under Duterte, following Senator Leila de Lima, who was a fierce critic of the administration’s brutal drug war.

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