MANILA, Philippines (ABS-CBN) - President Benigno Aquino III has signed a proclamation granting amnesty to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other soldiers involved in the Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.
Aquino said what he signed was a proclamation and is subject to concurrence by Congress.
The President made the announcement in an ambush interview after visiting the launch of the Electronic Business Name Registration System (eBNRS) at the DTI-NCR Area 3 office at Highway 54 along EDSA.
Aquino said the Department of Defense will process the application for the amnesty once it is concurred in by Congress.
The proclamation is expected to be sent to Congress today, Aquino said.
Trillanes is in military detention for his involvement in 2 of the events, including the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula Siege.
Other top military officials involved in the mutinous plots are Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda.
Lim, who ran for senator last May under President Aquino's political party, is involved in both the 2006 standoff and the Manila Peninsula Siege while Miranda is in detention for his alleged role in the Marine standoff.
In September, a group composed of prominent people came out with a full-page advertisement urging President Aquino to grant amnesty to the so-called Magdalo soldiers.
The group asked President Aquino to "grant amnesty to the active and former officers and enlisted personnel" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) "who stood against the previous administration."
Among the signatories were former president Joseph Estrada, former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona Jr., former Senate Presidents Jovito Salonga and Ernesto Maceda, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
"These soldiers have already suffered the consequences of their actions. They have paid their dues. We believe that it is the time for them to rebuild their lives, and in the process, contribute to rebuilding this nation," the ad stated.
Two months before the open letter came out, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima submitted to President Aquino its evaluation on the case of Trillanes.
This was after President Aquino ordered De Lima to review the coup d'etat charge against Trillanes since the elements of a coup were not present during the short-lived Oakwood mutiny.
"[Trillanes] was imprisoned because of Oakwood. My opinion is, and that is just my individual opinion, the fiscal should not have let that case prosper. There are several other cases but the coup d'etat case has specific requirements, which were not present. I think there was injustice there," the President said.
The statement sparked a brief debate at the Senate. Several senators criticized Aquino for allegedly meddling in a judicial matter.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan has proposed to file a bill in the Senate that will grant amnesty to junior officers who participated in the failed 2003 Oakwood Mutiny. (With reports from Ruby Tayag, radio dzMM and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News)