Palace, military disagree on Trillanes case

Sen. Antonio Trillanes photo

Amid the revocation of the amnesty of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Malacañang and the Military, on Tuesday, October 2, do not seem to agree on whether the former mutineer applied for amnesty or not.  

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the senator has indeed applied for amnesty. He referred to the sworn statement of the former head of the secretariat of the amnesty committee Lt. Col. Josefa Berbigal attesting to Trillanes’ application and submission of documents.

This was stated when Trillanes asked both Galvez and Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the Senate hearing on the proposed P183-billion DND budget for 2019 on whether they think he applied for amnesty.  

“Regarding my amnesty application – you know the truth – I want to know, did I apply for amnesty as far as your investigation is concerned?,” Trillanes asked as reported by The Philippine Star.

The current defense secretary claimed that he was in no position to answer since the amnesty grant happened during the previous administration. However, he noted that Solicitor General Jose Calida asked for his help in accessing security documents on August 16 to which a certain Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (J1) issued a certification that Trillanes’ application could not be found.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez (right) speaks as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the budget hearing for the defense department and attached agencies at the Senat on Tuesday, October 2. (photo by Geremy Pintolo)

Galvez responded by airing his  suspicion that Trillanes’ application document has gone missing due to some “lapses.” He noted an instance wherein documents regarding promotion of officers submitted by the AFP were not returned by the DND.

“Apparently, there were some lapses, sir. The (amnesty) documents were not handed back to the J1, which is basically the repository of all the documents along with the OTAG (Office of the Adjutant General),” Galvez replied.

“Our suspicion is that the repository of the documents did not bring these down to us at GHQ,” the AFP chief added as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Roque: Galvez, not a lawyer

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. begged to differ noting that Galvez statement does not hold much value because the AFP chief is not a lawyer.

“I’m talking as a lawyer, best evidence rule. And besides, that’s in the courts and one court has said that the pictures and everything else that Senator Trillanes adduced are not enough and, of course, I concur as a lawyer. Certainly, you don’t expect me to take the side of Chief Galvez who was not a lawyer over the words of a learned judge,” Roque said.

Roque said that the best proof would be the application form unto which has “a certification that it cannot be found.”

“Unfortunately, we are governed with the rules of evidence, best evidence rule, you have to prove first and foremost why you cannot produce the original document. He is unable to produce it,” the spokesperson added.

When reminded that the military, as a custodian, holds the responsibility of securing important documents, the presidential spokesperson insisted that the senator should have secured his own received copy, should circumstances such as this would arise.

“Ideally, but that is why his own copy of the received is important. His own received copy of the application is important because if the copy on file cannot be found, then the best evidence to prove that in fact it was filed would have been his duly received copy,” Roque said. 

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