Philippines

Armed Forces, police, loyal to ‘Chain of Command’

Trillanes question constitutionality of arrest order against him before Supreme Court

Manila: The defence department and the armed force said it remains loyal to the elected government in the face of efforts by political quarters to woo support on the issue involving Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“The Department of National Defence (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains loyal to the Chain of Command,” Defence spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in the wake of a reported social media campaign calling for President Rodrigo Duterte not to politicise the security branches.

The military in the past had played an important role in failed and successful power grabs, however, an important factor in such actions was the support of the people.

According to Andolong, group of active and retired military officers are insisting that arrest order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Trillanes is illegal.

Andolong said that since the President is the Commander in Chief, the DND and AFP will follow the “Chain of Command.”

It can be recalled that an order by Duterte made public last Monday declared that the amnesty given to Trillanes in connection with the coup attempts he led in 2003, 2006 and in 2007, were void from the start. The amnesty was voided because the Senator refused to admit his “guilt” in taking part in the failed power grabs.

The Senator was still a Navy Senior Grade Lieutenant when took part in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny in Makati City. He was detained along with other junior officers who took part in the failed coup. In 2006, he took part in another mutiny. In 2007, he was elected Senator despite campaigning only from within the confines of his jail cell. He staged a walkout while being transferred by authorities for a court hearing and called on supporters to rally behind him. Again, he failed to get support and was sent back to detention.

On Thursday, Trillanes who volunteered to be in the custody of the Senate as he refused arrest by police, challenged the constitutionality of Duterte’s order in a petition he filed before the Supreme Court.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that based on the circumstances of Trillances’ amnesty, he remains a member of the armed forces and is subject to the laws of the military which is different from civilian laws.

AFP spokesman Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, since Trillanes is now considered again a member of the AFP, he can be arrested and made to face a court-martial.

Arevalo explained that with the amnesty of Trillanes “void’, the case filed against him because of his participation in the “Oakwood mutiny” can proceed.