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Ombudsman absolves Noy, Trillanes of treason charges

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday relayed the Office of the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the treason and espionage charges filed against him and former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III filed by the camp of President Duterte shortly before the May 2016 presidential elections.
Trillanes said the Ombudsman, in its resolution issued recently, did not find probable cause to indict them for treason and espionage or even any evidence to prove that there was conspiracy between him and Aquino to commit such acts.
“The decision proves our point from the very start that the case was merely filed to harass and tarnish my reputation. This is what happens when your political opponents start to believe their own propaganda. But no matter how they twist the facts, in the end, the truth will always come out,” the senator said.
The case was filed a day before the presidential elections last year or some two weeks after Trillanes made disclosures on alleged undisclosed bank accounts of Duterte, then still a presidential candidate.
In their complaint, retired police Gen. Roberto Lastimoso, Dr. Enrico Sampang, Judge Moslemen Macarambon, former Rep. Ronald Adamat and Dr. Dioscoro Esteban Jr. questioned Trillanes’ backchannel talks with China in resolving the said standoff in the Scarborough Shoal in April 2012.
The said standoff in the then still disputed Scarborough Shoal later on prompted the government to elevate the matter before the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal in which the Philippines was given a favorable ruling.
The Ombudsman, however, noted that Trillanes merely acted under instruction and authority of then President Aquino to negotiate with Chinese representatives to ease the escalating tension then.
Such backchannel negotiations could not have contributed to the rising tension in the West Philippine Sea then as the alleged hostilities and aggression by China took place as early as May 2011, the Ombudsman further noted.
According to the Ombudsman, “As a result of the intense stand-off in April and May 2012 between Chinese and Philippines vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, President Aquino’s action of exploring means of peacefully settling the ongoing issue with China was for the interest of the Philippines. It is an inherent presidential power to pursue negotiations with other states. On the other hand,  Trillanes merely acted under President Aquino’s instruction to negotiate with Chinese representatives in order to ease the escalating tension between the two states.”
“The aggressive posturing of China was made known as early as May 23, 2011 when it was reported that…military garrisons and outposts are located in six reefs that are part of the Kalayaan Island Group. The back channel negotiation between Trillanes and Chinese representatives commenced only in May 2012. The alleged hostilities and aggression in the West Philippine Sea could not, therefore, be attributed to the backchannel discussions between Trillanes and the Chinese representatives,” the decision further explained.
“Treason is a war crime. It is not an all-time offense. While there is peace, there are no traitors. There must be actual hostilities. Backchannel negotiations with China cannot be construed as ‘giving aid to enemy,’” the Ombudsman said.
The complainants sought to have Trillanes and Aquino charged for violation of Articles 114 or Treason and 117 or Espionage of the Revised Penal Code.
They alleged that Trillanes meddled in the country’s foreign affairs and placed national security at risk by muddling the issues and peddling misinformation.

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