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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Mr. Pimentel Decries Double Standard in the Treatment of Senator Trillanes
Mr. Pimentel Decries Double Standard in the Treatment of Senator Trillanes PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Monday, 25 August 2008 01:26

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel III today assailed an apparent double standard of justice in the treatment of  detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes  in the face of the rejection by the courts of his petition to be allowed to perform his legislative duties while the  coup charges against are under trial.


Senator Pimentel maintained that Mr. Trillanes, one of the leaders of the aborted July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, should be permitted to attend Senate sessions and  hearings and to exercise his rights since he is entitled to presumption of innocence as long as he has not yet been convicted by the courts.

 

He said the unfair and harsh treatment of Senator Trillanes becomes even more palpable if viewed against the fact that Moro National Liberation Front chairman and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Nur Misuari, who is facing more serious criminal charges, has been given temporary liberty by the courts by posting bail.

 

“Governor Misuari is facing charges of rebellion while Senator Trillanes is facing a charge of attempted coup d’etat, both non-bailable offenses. And yet in the case of the former ARMM governor, the government has looked the other way around and allowed him to roam around,” the minority leader said.

 

More than a hundred persons were killed during armed clashes between government troops and MNLF rebels in Sulu that followed then Governor Misuari’s declaration of a new uprising against the government in November 200l.

 

In comparison, Senator Pimentel said no fire was shot and nobody was hurt or killed during the Oakwood mutiny and even during the so-called siege of Manila Peninsula Hotel on November 20, 2007 where Mr. Trillanes was a leading figure.

 

Mr. Pimentel points out that Senator Trillanes is not even asking the courts to grant him bail but merely to be allowed to discharge his duties as a member of the Senate elected by more then ll-million voters.

“And yet, Senator Trillanes is being treated differently from the government’s treatment of Nur Misuari,” Mr. Pimentel said.

 

In a motion for intervention filed last week before the Supreme Court, Senator Pimentel and other minority senators, Benigno Aquino III, Rodolfo Biazon, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Jamby Madrigal and Mar Roxas asked the tribunal to reverse its July 23, 2OO8, decision dismissing Trillanes’ petition.

 

“Under the circumstances, a double standard of justice for which the government is responsible appears to be harshly and unconstitutionally applied to Sen. Trillanes in the refusal to grant his petition to attend and participate in the sessions of the Senate and its committee meetings and hearings,” they said.

 

Senator Pimentel also denounced the attempt of some Senate allies of Malacanang to ease out Senator Trillanes from the chamber as a consequence of the SC ruling.   He said such attempt is premature and unjustified under the law because the criminal charges against the former Navy captain are still being heard by a Makati Regional Trial Court and a military tribunal while the high court has yet on his motion for reconsideration of its adverse decision.

 

He argued that the petition of Senator Trillanes to be allowed to perform his legislative duties should not be denied by the judiciary by relying on the precedent case of former Zamboanga City Rep. Romeo Jalosjos.  He said that when Jalosjos petitioned the Supreme Court to be allowed to attend sessions and hearings of the House of Representatives, he had already been convicted for the rape of a minor victim.

 

On the other, Senator Trillanes has not yet been convicted for the coup charges against him which are in the nature of a political offense, Senator Pimentel said.

 

Senator Pimentel also reminded the Supreme Court that it may be “teetering on the border of infringing upon the independence of the Senate” if Mr. Trillanes continues to be deprived of his rights even if he has not yet been convicted,  the effect of which is to impose a penalty of suspension on him.

He invoked Article VI, section l6 (3) of the Constitution which provides that “Each House may determine its rules of proceeding, punish its members for disorderly behavior and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member.”

 

Senator Pimentel also bewailed that the inability of Senator Trillanes to attend and participate in Senate activities has impaired the capability of the opposition in the Senate to discharge its constitutional role as a fiscalizer.  # # #



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Last Updated on Monday, 25 August 2008 01:29
 

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