Political showdown erupts in the Philippines


Political showdown erupts in the Philippines

Joseph Santolan

14 September 2018

Over the past week, long-simmering political tensions in Manila came to a head in an open standoff between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the ruling class political opposition. Duterte attempted to order the arrest of leading oppositionist, Senator Antonio Trillanes.

On August 31, Duterte signed Proclamation 572, revoking an amnesty extended to Trillanes by his predecessor President Benigno Aquino III, who pardoned Trillanes for leading two military coup attempts against Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The proclamation was made public on September 4, as Duterte, traveling in Israel, had his administration request an arrest warrant for the senator.

The Makati regional trial court balked at the request, declaring that the amnesty extended to Trillanes by Aquino had suspended earlier criminal proceedings against the senator and that if the amnesty was lifted, he should not be arrested, but brought back to court. The Department of National Defense (DND) then ordered a military arrest, for which it claimed no warrant was needed.

Trillanes took up residence in his office in the Senate building, and Senate President Tito Sotto, at the request of the minority bloc, insisted that arresting officers would not be allowed inside the legislature. The next day Trillanes filed a request before the Supreme Court for a Temporary Restraining Order on the military arrest. In the midst of legal proceedings on September 6 and 7, the DND announced that it would not pursue the arrest of Trillanes, but would await a ruling on Duterte’s revocation of the Senator’s amnesty.

As of this morning, Trillanes remained within the legislature, but he had publicly declared his intention of leaving…

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