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Palace insists proclamation voiding Trillanes amnesty ‘valid, constitutional’

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By Prince Golez

Malacanang stands by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148’s decision upholding legality of Proclamation No. 572.

Proclamation No. 572, signed by President Rodrigo Dutete on August 31, 2018, declares as “void ab initio” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty on the ground that he did not file his amnesty application correctly.

“The President’s Proclamation on the nullity of the supposed grant of amnesty to Senator Trillanes is a valid exercise of executive power as it is part of the Constitution’s mandate for the President to ensure the enforcement of all laws, including the lawful prosecution of those who violate such laws,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Friday.

Panelo made the statement after Trillanes asked the court to reconsider its October 22 ruling upholding Duterte’s proclamation.

The former Navy officier said Proclamation No. 572 was in violation of his due process and equal protection rights when it ordered the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to arrest him.

Said proclamation was “tantamount to an ex post facto issuance and/or a bill of attainder,” according to him.

Ex post facto laws punish an act that was legal when committed, while a bill of attainder is a legislative act that imposes punishment without a trial.

Duterte’s chief legal counsel clarified that Proclamation No. 572 “seeks to correct an error upon which the dismissal of the charges against Senator Trillanes was based. The court will still have the prerogative to rule upon the prosecution of Senator Trillanes.”

It cannot be considered as a bill of attainder or an ex post facto law since it is an executive exercise of power and not a legislative one, he added.

“Senator Trillanes cannot claim any denial of his right to due process since he was and is being given his day in court. There was also no threat of illegal arrest upon his person since the President even categorically directed law enforcement agencies to wait for the proper issuance of appropriate warrants from the courts if such be justified,” Panelo said.

Trillanes, the abogado said, “continued freedom from arrest and ability to present his arguments before the court are testaments of the government’s respect for his constitutional right to due process.”