The amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was invalid from the start since it was signed by former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by former president Benigno Aquino III, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Monday.
Panelo said he saw a document addressed to Aquino which showed that Gazmin has been given authority to approve and grant the amnesty to Trillanes.
“You know, under the Constitution, the power to grant amnesty as well as pardon is exclusive to the President, you cannot delegate that power to any alter ego. So that makes the grant amnesty void from the very beginning,” Panelo said in an interview with a cable television.
If Gazmin was claiming he was just executing the amnesty Proclamation 75 signed by Aquino, Panelo said the former president should have a separate document granting the applicants the grant of amnesty.
“I haven’t seen that. Unless you can show me that, then, it will be valid,” Panelo said.
Panelo said Gazmin has violated “usurpation of authority” if the documents will indeed show that he, instead of Aquino, who granted amnesty to Trillanes.
When asked if government will file a case against Gazmin, Panelo said, “if that are facts, then it should done”.
On Aug. 31, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 572, declaring void ab initio (from the beginning) the amnesty granted to Trillanes for failure to “comply with minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Proclamation”.
The Office of the Solicitor General discovered that Trillanes has no duly received application form where he should have expressly admitted his guilt for leading the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 and Manila Peninsula in 2007 against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“The theory of SolGen is that there is no compliance of the mandatory requirements,” Panelo said.
Panelo said if Trillanes has indeed a duly received application form, the senator should have included it his petition to the Supreme Court, questioning the validity of Duterte’s proclamation.
Panelo added that Trillanes’ “subsequent acts” like seditious words against the Duterte government is another ground to declare the senator’s amnesty void ab initio.
“So those applicants pleaded to the government to forgive them and admit guilt. Hence, if you are an applicant and your intention really is to apply and ask forgiveness, subsequent to the grant, you would be exercising the obligations as well as the rights of a good a citizen. But what did Trillanes do? After being granted the same, he committed acts inimical to the state,” Panelo said.
“He has been committing sedition — he has been uttering seditious words against this government, against the President. He has been accusing this government as well as Mr. Duterte as the one’s initiating killing, extrajudicial killings,” Panelo added.