By Leila Salaverria Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Jailed opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a Makati court decision and allow him to attend Senate sessions and other official functions. Trillanes, who is in jail on coup d'etat charges in connection with the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, also asked the high court to stop the military from preventing him from seeing his Senate staff, resource persons and guests at his detention cell at the Marine Barracks of Fort Bonifacio. Named respondents in the petition were Makati regional trial court Judge Oscar Pimentel; Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr.; Marine Commandant, Major General Benjamin Dolorfino; Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag; and Marine Barracks Manila commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Luciardo Obeña Jr. In rejecting Trillanes' petition to be allowed to attend Senate sessions, allowed access to media and set up an office in his jail cell, the Makati court said the request was tantamount to asking that Trillanes be given special privileges and preferential treatment. In his petition, Trillanes said the Makati court's decision not to allow him to attend Senate sessions was inconsistent with its earlier ruling allowing him to run for public office. He said the ruling was equivalent to "denying the people's will, refusing their choice and overruling their mandate as the country's sovereign." Trillanes won election to the Senate in the May 2007 elections with about 11 million votes. Trillanes said he should be given the same treatment as deposed president Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder last month and sentenced to life imprisonment, and Nur Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front and the former governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. He said Estrada was allowed out to attend social functions, while Misuari was placed under "townhouse arrest" and allowed to go abroad. His lawyer Reynaldo Robles said that until September 27, his client was allowed to receive visitors and resource persons, including other senators, but the military later banned him from receiving guests, except for close family members, without explanation. The ban came after Trillanes held a committee hearing at his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio. Trillanes said that with the ban on visitors, he is now stopped from fulfilling the few Senate functions that he was able to do.
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By DJ Yap Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The Makati court handling the coup d'etat case against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will hear on Friday his motion appealing the ruling rejecting his request for furlough to attend Senate sessions. Judge Oscar Pimentel of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 will hear the arguments of both parties on whether he should reverse his decision denying Trillanes leave to perform his Senate duties while under detention. On Thursday, the prosecution panel led by Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera filed another pleading opposing Trillanes' motion, which they said smacked of special treatment. "Accused Trillanes is not asking for nothing; he is asking for too muchÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦He wants to be out of detention from morning to evening to attend all Senate sessions at the GSIS Building in Pasay City," they said. "He wants a working area in the Marine brig with telephone lines and Internet access. He wants to receive members of his staff at all times. He wants access to media at all times," the prosecutors added. They said Trillanes' motion was "uncannily similar" to former Zamboanga del Norte representative Romeo Jalosjos' "motion to be allowed to discharge mandate as member of the House of Representatives," after he was elected while in detention on charges of statutory rape and acts of lasciviousness. The motion was denied when Jalosjos' conviction was upheld. "He [Trillanes] should just admit to this Honorable Court that he is asking for special treatment as a Senator of the Republic," the prosecutors said. Earlier, Trillanes said denying him the chance to perform his duties was like a "slap in the face" of the 11 million who voted for him, and was akin to "denying the people's will, repudiating their choice and overruling their mandate as the sovereign of the nation." Trillanes asked the court to grant him leave to attend all official Senate functions, increased media access, and a workstation inside his cell. In denying Trillanes' motion, Pimentel cited the "Jalosjos doctrine," which stated: "When the voters of his district elected the accused-appellant to Congress, they did so with full awareness of the limitation on his freedom of action." Pimentel agreed with the Jalosjos doctrine that "allowing a prisoner to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for five days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man" and would constitute preferential treatment. Trillanes argued that Jalosjos was charged with various counts of rape and lasciviousness, crimes involving moral turpitude, while he was charged with the offense of coup d'etat, "a charge which is commonly regarded as a political offense." He added that Jalosjos was convicted at the time he sought furlough to serve his term, while he is still undergoing trial. A better comparison, said Trillanes, would be with the cases of former president Joseph Estrada and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Nur Misuari, who were allowed some liberties to perform political functions. The prosecutors, however, argued that citing the Estrada and Misuari cases "assumes the trees for the forest." "The vast majority of non-bailable detention prisoners, who are not among the 'contemporary examples' cited by accused Trillanes, do not enjoy special treatment," they said.
THE WHOLE world saw what Trillanes had done when he and his cohorts held the Oakwood hotel and its employees hostage to further his "convictions." Guts you say? The man was definitely not thinking straight when he launched his campaign of terror. Despite the noblest of intentions, his actions had consequences that so adversely affected the economy that it moved progress some years back. Trillanes is a military man. He has no business talking the talk of civilians. How he won as senator is so beyond comprehension. Is that how the Filipino voter selects leaders, on good looks and trash talk? -- Arpee Lazaro, Makati City, Philippines (via e-mail)
I CONGRATULATE Judge Pimentel on his ruling denying Mr. Trillanes free rein to attend Senate hearings. If Mr. Trillanes thinks he can escape the consequences of his actions by hiding behind the skirts of an election victory, the law still has proven him wrong. He tried to gain power by stepping over our laws and now he uses the same system to try to bail himself out. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. -- Jerry Lalic, Ontario, Canada (via e-mail)
CHECK out this video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Joel Guinto. For more videos, visit iVDO.
DETAINED senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV was mobbed by media and supporters on his way to his proclamation as the 11th senator. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Erwin Oliva on June 15 at the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros. For more videos, visit iVDO.
IT is a blatant display of stomping the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of choice and expression, if not displaying ignorance about it. They use the enlisted men as guinea pigs to please their master, although the majority would surely avail of the doctrine of secrecy. It is a calculated bullying exercise after exhaling the fumes of embarrassment and dismay that Mr. Trillanes got his way to the Senate which was a message so loud and clear of the Filipino voters' support for Trillanes' advocacy against the Arroyo regime. -- Napoleon de la Torre, Auckland, New Zealand (via e-mail)
TRILLANES would not even win as barangay chairman before Oakwood. Yes, the Philippine electorate rewarded Lt. Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV for causing untold suffering to the people by bringing down the economy and wreaking havoc on the business community in co-masterminding the infamous Oakwood mutiny. He used this popularity to shortcut his way to the political arena. Why can't he do a Lacson and a Biazon who took the long road and got out of service and ran for public office on the merits of their accomplishments? Is he too ambitious and could not wait for his turn? Let's see if he will turn out to be like the gentlemen I mentioned or will he be like Gringo who was rewarded again after warming his seat in a forgettable stint in the Senate. -- Buddy Jose, Las Vegas, Nevada (via e-mail)
A QUESTION has been plaguing me ever since the different tallies of the results of the 2007 elections became public. Why is Antonio Trillanes so popular? The truth is that I didn't really believe he would make it to the final 12. I thought he was just filler for the Genuine Opposition (GO), a candidate they included in their slate just to fill the role of Rebel Leader. Yet here he is, No. 9 in the latest Comelec count, with 1, 260, 295 votes. Over 1.2 million people want Trillanes to become a senator! I voted for him, for the following reasons. 1. He has principles. (The reason for the Oakwood mutiny was the corruption in the upper echelon of the military. Most of us like to deny that this corruption exists, for who wants to believe that the nation's defenders are the paid goons of politicians who cheated their way into power? But it does exist. And Trillanes fought against it.) 2. He has courage. (Seriously -- he didn't just risk his career, he risked his life and freedom to do what he did. That took guts. Some would call it stupidity, since he ended up in jail, but hey, he's running for senator anyway.) 3. He has leadership qualities. 4. He has made his antipathy towards an increasingly dictatorial government clear. But I'm not one of those people who only vote for the candidates they think have a shot at winning. The rest of my votes went to Ang Kapatiran candidates, Kiko Pangilinan, and Joker Arroyo. I knew when I voted that only Pangilinan and Arroyo would win -- or at least, that's what I thought then. Now I'm really hoping that Trillanes wins too. After all, since when has having principles or being courageous proven to be a formula for success in politics? Legarda ditched her principles, and she's doing just fine. Escudero's never had the guts to pass a single law while in Congress, and he's doing great, too. I think Trillanes is winning because he reminds people of everything that's wrong with the GMA administration -- while serving as a reminder that such wrongs can be corrected. Let's face facts. GMA cheated. GMA lied. GMA either orders or tacitly condones the murderous activities of her generals. GMA takes credit for an improving economy, holding up as proof the stock exchange and the peso-dollar rate. All that shows is that the rich are getting richer, while the poor -- well, you know how the rest of the saying goes. Trillanes may lose once the votes in Visayas and Mindanao are counted. After all, Visayas is a much-vaunted bailiwick of the administration, while Mindanao is where large-scale cheating occurs without anyone in Luzon batting an eye. But here is the truth which GMA will not be able to deny. Even if Trillanes loses, the very fact that he came so close to winning shows that far too many people hate her. A vote for Trillanes is a vote against GMA. That's what he has represented, all along -- rebellion. It doesn't have to be bloody. That's the difference between a revolution and a rebellion. All Trillanes wants, what he has come to symbolize for the 1.2 million who voted for him, is change.
I THINK that since the election is now over save for the counting we can now do a post-election evaluation. Maybe candidates can learn a thing or two from this. I did not vote for Pichay because he apparently spent so much for his political ads. This worried me. Where will he get the money to recoup his "investments"? Also, there were so many ads that I feel it backfired. I got fed up hearing him promise that he dreams of fulfilling my dreams. But it seems the only way for him to do that is that I must first fulfill his dream of becoming a senator. I did not vote for Sonia Roco because of her "para silang autistic" remark aired over national TV. That's a very callous statement. She claimed in her apology that she was not poking fun at children with special needs. But the fact that she used the word autistic had hurt me. By the way, autistic is not the politically correct term. It's "children with autism." Because we have to see the child beyond his or her autism. I did not vote for Alan Peter Cayetano. Every time I hear him, he always attacks. What will he do in the Senate? Attack some more? He got suspended in the last Congress for his false accusations against the First Gentleman. My dear lawmaker, "tsismis" (or gossip) should have no room in a lawmaker's mind. Leave that to showbiz gossip writers. You cannot make laws based on "tsismis." Verify your facts first. Gather evidence before calling for an investigation. That way you will save us taxpayers our time and money. Cayetano came across as a witch hunter, not a fiscalizer that he tried to package himself. Plus, I cannot stomach his arguments against the political dynasty issue thrown at him. He claimed that, before he ran, he challenged PGMA that if she will not allow her sons to run for Congress, he will also not run as senator. That's baloney! If he really thinks that political dynasty is wrong, he should not run. Period. This political dynasty issue is also the reason why I did not vote for Koko Pimentel and Vic Magsaysay. They already have relatives sitting in the Senate. Can't they wait for their relatives to step down before running for the senate? I did not vote for Loren Legarda for she came off to me as someone out to be in power no matter what's the price. Whenever I see her, I see ambition written all over her face. She cried when the envelope was not opened in the Estrada impeachment trial. But during the campaign, I saw her all smiles while Erap is raising her hand. Where's her convictions? Were they for convenience or expediency? I did not vote for Antonio Trillanes not only for the Oakwood mutiny but also he came across as arrogant. First, he claimed it would be a slap for PGMA if he wins while campaigning behind bars. But then he applied for bail. It appeared to me that it was all for media sound bites. Well, some of these candidates may have won in this election. I just hope my perceptions are wrong. But I think I will not regret dumping them. It's my vote. It's my choice.