Philippines: Arbitrary arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes

05/10/2018
Urgent Appeal

PHL 004 / 1018 / OBS 121
Arbitrary arrest / Release on bail /
Judicial harassment
Philippines
October 5, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment against Senator Antonio Trillanes, known for criticising President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies and their negative impact on human rights, including the so-called ‘war on drugs’, the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC), attempts to reinstate the death penalty, and the extension of martial law in the Mindanao region.

According to the information received, on September 25, 2018 at around 3pm, police officers led by Metro Manila police chief arrested Mr. Trillanes in the Senate’s parking lot and took him to Makati police station, after the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 ordered his arrest based on a Department of Justice’s request. Mr. Trillanes was charged with “rebellion” under Republic Act No. 6968 (an act punishing the crime of coup d’état by amending Article 134, 135 and 136 of the Revised Penal Code). At around 5pm, he was released on bail of 200,000 Pesos (about 3,145 Euros).

Mr. Trillanes had been holed up in his Senate office since President Duterte’s decision to invalidate his amnesty was made public on September 4. On August 31, President Duterte issued 2018 Proclamation No. 572, which withdrew the amnesty that former President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino had granted to Mr. Trillanes in November 2010 over his involvement in the ‘Oakwood mutiny’ in July 2003, and the ‘Manila Peninsula Siege’ in November 2007 [1]. President Duterte justified the decision to withdraw the amnesty because Mr. Trillanes had not complied with the minimum requirements (i.e. file an application form and express guilt for his crime) to be granted amnesty. According to President Duterte’s Proclamation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the armed forces’ martial court were instructed to “pursue all criminal and administrative cases” against Mr. Trillanes over his involvement in the attempted military uprisings in July 2003 and November 2007.

On September 7, 2018, the Makati RTC Branch 150 granted the DOJ’s request for an arrest warrant against Mr. Trillanes for his role in the 2003 and 2007 events.

On September 28, 2018, the Makati RTC Branch 148 deferred its decision on the DOJ’s request to issue an arrest warrant against Mr. Trillanes over his previously dismissed coup d’état charges for which he had been granted amnesty, and set a hearing for October 5. The Makati RTC Branch 148 will rule over the same issue as Branch 150, i.e. whether Mr. Trillanes filed an application form and there was an admission of guilt at the time he applied for amnesty. During the hearing on October 5, both parties presented their evidences to the court, before the judge ordered the defense and the prosecution to file their formal written offer of evidences on October 9 and 10, respectively.

It is believed that President Duterte’s action against Mr. Trillanes stem from the latter’s speech accusing Duterte of undeclared bank transactions for a total of two billion pesos (about 31,900 Euros) in October 2017. On March 15, 2018, the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office filed charges of “inciting to sedition” (Article 142 of the Penal Code) against Mr. Trillanes over that speech. These charges against Mr. Trillanes were eventually dropped.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Trillanes is the second senator to be arrested under President Duterte, after Senator Leila de Lima, former Chair of the Philippines Human Rights Commission and also a very vocal critic of President Duterte’s human rights record, was arrested on February 24, 2017, on trumped-up drug trafficking charges. Ms. de Lima remains detained at the Philippines National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment against Mr. Trillanes, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him for upholding human rights principles. The Observatory urges the authorities of the Philippines to drop all criminal charges in connection with politically-motivated cases against Mr. Trillanes and to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Philippines asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Antonio Trillanes, Ms. Leila de Lima as well as all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Leila de Lima, as her detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities;

iii. End all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, and drop all politically-motivated charges against Mr. Antonio Trillanes, Ms. Leila de Lima and all human rights defenders in the Philippines; and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: +632 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/ ;
Mr. Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph, Twitter: @alanpcayetano;
Hon. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email: communications@doj.gov.ph ;
Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Fax: +632 929 0102, Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com ;
H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email: mission@genevapm.ph ;
Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 02 345 64 25, E-mail: brusselspe@gmail.com.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, October 5, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Mr. Trillanes is a former Navy officer known for two coups de force - the occupation of hotels in central Manila in 2003 and 2007 - led with fellow soldiers under former President Gloria Arroyo to protest corruption in the Army.

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