The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the treason and espionage complaint filed against Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former President Benigno Aquino III for their alleged backchannel negotiations with China.
Trillanes believes that the decision is a manifestation that “the truth will always come out.”
“The decision proves our point from the very start that the case was merely filed to harass and tarnish my reputation,” the senator said in a statement on Sunday, June 18.
“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,” Trillanes added.
In a statement released to media on Sunday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales cited “lack of probable cause” for treason and the evidence presented “cannot sufficiently establish the accusations” for espionage. It explained that backchannel negotiations with China cannot be construed as giving aid to an enemy.
“As a result of the intense standoff 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, Senator 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 resolution read.
It added: “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 6 reefs that are part of the Kalayaan Island Group. The backchannel negotiation between Senator 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 Senator Trillanes and the Chinese representatives.”
In May 2016, complainants Gen. Roberto Lastimoso, Enrico Sampang, Judge Moslemen Macarambon and Dioscoro Esteban, Jr. filed the case against Trllanes and Aquino for violation of Articles 114, Treason, at 117, Espionage, under the Revised Penal Code. Most of the complainants currently hold government positions, assigned by President Rodrigo Duterte. (With reports from Jennifer Soriano/AJPress)