By Abner Galino
HUMAN rights advocates and other Filipino American cause-oriented groups in Los Angeles have denounced the alleged political harassment of Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for being a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Arturo Garcia of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) in Los Angeles said their group is standing by with the members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Samahang Magdalo in protesting the alleged unlawful actions of the Philippine government against Trillanes.
“It is obvious, he (Trillanes) is the most active resistance leader against the de facto martial law of President Duterte,” Garcia said.
“He supported the filing of complaint against Duterte in the International Criminal Court (in The Hague in the Netherlands). He exposed the irregular government contracts cornered by Calida (Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida). He has been speaking against extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. He is an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration and they are out to silence him.”
Remedy Medina, a leader of the Samahang Magdalo in Los Angeles, posted an online video wherein he called the alleged political persecution against Senator Trillanes as a mere “diversionary tactic” of the Duterte administration.
“Eto ‘yung diversionary tactic na ginagawa ni Duterte ngayon. ‘Yung high inflation rate na abot na sa 6 percent, ‘yung economy, ‘yung mga bukbok (rotten rice), ‘yung galunggong, his ratings is probably been down in the gutter and they know that. And this is one of the measures that they are going to do, para mailihis ‘yung atensiyon ng mga tao sa tunay na kalagayan nila,” Medina said.
Donny Deleon, a US veteran and also a member of FAHRA based in San Francisco, called the Philippine government’s action against Trillanes as an alleged political vendetta.
“Hindi po tama iyan, political vendetta po iyan. Wala pong legal basis iyan. Katulad po ng ginawa nila kay Senador de Lima,” Deleon argued.
Deleon said that if the Filipino people would remain silent on the face of alleged harassment done to opposition leaders, it wouldn’t be far fetched that the same fate could befall Vice President Leni Robredo.
Fe Koons, a Los Angeles based writer and activist, called the Philippine government’s action against Senator Trillanes a “violation of human rights.”
“The prices of basic goods continue to rise. Duterte should alleviate the socioeconomic conditions of poor Filipinos instead of going after Trillanes,” Koons said.
Meanwhile, a mass action by Filipino Americans was held last Friday in front of the building that houses the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles to show support to the embattled Philippine senator.
Duterte has voided the amnesty given to Senator Trillanes when he was jailed while still a junior officer in the Philippine Navy.
Trillanes was detained for years before his election to the Philippine Senate because of his involvement in three military mutinies between the years 2003 and 2007. The renegade soldiers broke ranks to protest corruption in the military and the government.
The Duterte government has cited technicalities in revoking the amnesty given to Trillanes.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo told the media that Senator Trillanes “will be reverted to his status as active military personnel subject to military law and military discipline.” He added that Senator Trillanes could also be tried in a military court.
Several military officers who also received amnesties for taking part in the failed coup are employed in the Duterte administration, but so far, only Senator Trillanes has been subjected to the revocation of pardon.
Opposition leader, Senator Franklin Drilon, said attempting to resurrect rebellion cases against Senator Trillanes would amount to “double jeopardy.”
Trillanes, for his part, said his lawyers will petition the Supreme Court to declare the government actions against him as illegal.