Joker, Enrile won’t join ‘free Trillanes’ proposal

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MAJORITY of the senators yesterday pledged support for the passage of a resolution expressing their desire to have Senator Antonio Trillanes IV join them during sessions. But Senators Joker Arroyo and Juan Ponce Enrile were wary of the proposal.

Trillanes, accused of rebellion in connection with the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, is detained in Fort Bonifacio. Rebellion is an unbailable offense. Trillanes failed to attend yesterday’s opening session of the Senate in the 14th Congress.

Trillanes has asked the Makati Regional Trial Court for permission to attend Senate sessions but the court has yet to rule on his petition. The Department of Justice opposed his request.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said that as of yesterday, there were already 16 senators who signed the resolution that he initiated. Senators Enrile and Edgardo Angara also said they would sign the resolution.

In calling for the adoption of the resolution, Pimentel noted that Trillanes was elected by over 12 million voters in the last election.

Pimentel likewise noted that the charges against the alleged leader of the Oakwood Mutiny, Senator Gregorio Honasan, have been dropped by the justice department. “If the charges against the supposed leader, Honasan, have been dropped, why can’t the government allow the supposed follower, Senator Trillanes, to at least perform his duty as a senator?”

Arroyo said while he could understand the sentiment of support for Trillanes, he could not sign the resolution because of constitutional issues, saying such resolution could be interpreted as trying to influence the judiciary.

“The Constitution says that when the judiciary steps in, the executive and the legislative should step out. The judiciary would not want us to influence them in the same manner that we would not want them to influence us,” Arroyo said.

Pimentel said that the wording of the resolution clearly says that the Senate is recognizing that the Makati RTC has primary jurisdiction over Trillanes.

Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, suggested that the signatories to the resolution file a petition before the Supreme Court to put to the issue to rest. Pimentel said he would initiate such a petition.

Pimentel had cited in the proposed resolution the case of Senator Justiniano Montano of Cavite in the early 50s who was accused of multiple murder, also an unbailable offense, yet was allowed by the Supreme Court to perform his job as legislator.

The proposed resolution also noted that with his election, Trillanes has opted to pursue through peaceful means his grievances against the government, and that he is no longer a flight risk.

The Senate was not able to act on the resolution because of the pending election of officers of the upper chamber. The Senate was expected to adopt the resolution today.