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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Senator Trillanes of the Philippines, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians following the Procedure for the treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of the human rights of members of parliament,

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which contains a detailed outline of the case (CL/184/12(b)-R.1.),

Considering the following facts:

  • Mr. Antonio F. Trillanes, then a Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade, was arrested and detained owing to his participation in the so-called “Oakwood Siege” of 27 July 2003 when more than 300 soldiers went to the Oakwood Hotel in Makati City to make known their grievances over graft and corruption within the Armed Forces of the Philippines, denouncing in particular what has become known as the “Greenbase Documents”; the incident ended peacefully with the Oakwood agreement providing for an independent investigation into the allegations of corruption with only five core members of the group, including Trillanes, to be prosecuted under Military Law; subsequently, however, charges of an attempted coup d'état - a non-bailable offence - were brought against him and 30 others;

  • While in detention, Mr. Trillanes was allowed to register as a voter in December 2006, to file his certificate of candidacy for a Senate seat in February 2007, to cast his vote on 14 May 2007, to be proclaimed a senator-elect, and to take his oath of office on 29 June 2007; having received the eleventh highest number of votes (11,189,671), he was subsequently elected chair of the Senate's Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization;

  • Senator Trillanes was first held at the Detention Center of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces, was subsequently moved to the Marine Brig, Fort Bonifacio, and is currently held in the Philippine National Police Headquarters; during his election campaign, Senator Trillanes was permitted to meet regularly with campaign supporters and all guests wishing to see him; upon his election in June 2007, this policy continued and he was granted broad visiting rights and even allowed to hold inside the prison a first meeting of the Senate Committee that he was elected to chair; however, a few months after his election, this situation changed such that he is at present virtually unable to carry out his mandate; his applications and an application by the Senate itself to allow him to attend Senate sessions have been rejected in final instance by the Supreme Court, although the former custodian of Senator Trillanes at the Marine Brig, Colonel Luciardo D. Oneba did not object to Senator Trillanes's request to be allowed to attend Senate sessions but merely recommended that “the Honourable Senator will be picked-up and transported back and forth with adequate Senate Security every time he attends the purposes being mentioned”, and the Chief of Staff of the AFP, General Hermogenes Esperon, in a letter dated 19 July 2007 to the trial court, expressed and professed “non-obstruction, in any manner, of the election and performance (by Senator Trillanes) of his duties in accordance with the popular mandate”;

  • In rejecting Senator Trillanes's petition, the Supreme Court relied essentially on the precedent of People vs. Romeo Jalosjos, where it held that “allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for five days or more a week will virtually make him a free man … Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellant to that of a special class, it would also be a mockery of the purposes of the correctional system”; the sources point out that reference to that case is misplaced since, unlike that of Senator Trillanes, it concerned a member of parliament already convicted at first instance at the time of his petition on two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness (crimes involving moral turpitude) who had attempted to escape arrest;

  • The sources point also to the case of the former Governor of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mr. Nur Misuri who was granted bail in April 2008, although he is being tried for the non-bailable crime of rebellion on account of having led an uprising in Jolo province, Mindanao, which killed hundreds of people;

  • In Senate Resolution No. 3 on “Expressing the Sense of the Senate that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV be Allowed to Participate in the Sessions and other Functions of the Senate in Accordance with the Rule of Law”, adopted by the Senate on 25 July 2007, the Senate notes inter alia that the possibility of flight by Senator Trillanes in the event of his being granted bail is “remote if not impossible considering all the circumstances” and refers to the case of Senator Justiniano Montano of Cavite in the following terms: “Senator Justiniano Montano of Cavite in the early 50es was placed in a similar predicament as Senator Trillanes when the former was charged with multiple murders and was placed under arrest: Multiple murder, like the offence with which Senator Trillanes is charged, is non-bailable. But the Supreme Court allowed Senator Montano bail so that he could join the sessions of the Congress and perform his other duties as an elected senator of the land”;

  • The Senate minority leader filed a motion which was signed by all but three Senators, to allow Senator Trillanes to participate in Senate hearings via video-conferencing; the motion was referred to the Senate's Committee on Rules; meanwhile, the Senate is amending its Rules to enable participation of members in Senate sessions via video-conferencing,
Bearing in mind that the Philippines is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which enshrines fair trial guarantees and that, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Philippines has pledged to uphold the highest standards of human rights,
  1. Recalls that accused persons, whether or not detained, have the right to be tried without undue delay and that detained persons must be tried as expeditiously as possible; affirms that special diligence is required in the case of detained members of parliament as their detention prevents them from effectively exercising their mandate and deprives their constituents of representation in parliament;

  2. Remains deeply concerned in this respect that Senator Trillanes has now been on trial and in preventive detention for more than five years, a period which, in the light of international jurisprudence, may well violate his fundamental rights under Article 9, paragraph 3, and Article 14, paragraph 3(c), of the ICCPR; wishes to ascertain the current stage of the judicial proceedings against him and the prospects for their speedy conclusion;

  3. Recalls further that it is a well-established principle that a person must be released pending trial unless the State can show that there are relevant and sufficient grounds for continued detention; believes that there are ample grounds, especially in the light of judicial precedent, for Senator Trillanes's release pending trial and, even more so, ample grounds for allowing him to attend Senate sessions and to grant him the necessary facilities to enable him to exercise his mandate meaningfully;

  4. Observes that depriving the 11 million citizens who voted for him of representation in parliament can only harm the democratic process; notes with interest the Senate motion to allow his participation in Senate sessions via video-conferencing and the envisaged amendment of Senate rules to allow participation of members in its work via vide-conferencing, and hopes that the amendment will soon be adopted;

  5. Wishes lastly to ascertain whether parliament has launched any investigation into the allegations of graft and corruption within the Armed Forces made by Senator Trillanes and his co-accused;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities, inviting them to provide the requested information;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 121st Assembly of the IPU (October 2009).
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