by Elena Aben
The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the treason and espionage charges against former President Benigno S. Aquino III and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
The office of Trillanes on Sunday furnished the media a copy of the 16-page resolution released by the Ombudsman dismissing the case.
The statement said the Ombudsman “did not find probable cause for treason and espionage, and there was no evidence to prove that there was conspiracy between Aquino and Trillanes as alleged by the complainants.”
The case was filed in May last year by former Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Roberto T. Lastimoso, Dr. Enrico Sampang, former Commission on Elections commissioner Moslemen T. Macarambon, former congressman Ronald Adamat, and Dr. Dioscoro Esteban Jr.
They specifically questioned Trillanes’ clandestine meetings and backchannel negotiations with China in 2012 over Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Panatag Shoal.
Trillanes said he got his authority from Aquino. The complainants, however, said Trillanes placed national security at risk by muddling the issues and peddling misinformation.
In dismissing the treason and espionage allegations, the Ombudsman noted that “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 that “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 on-going issue with China was for the interest of the Philippines. It is an inherent presidential power to pursue negotiations with other States.”
Trillanes, on the other hand, “merely acted under Pres. Aquino’s instruction to negotiate with Chinese representatives in order to ease the escalating tension between the two States,” the statement said, quoting the Ombudsman.
“The aggressive posturing of China was made known as earlv 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 Sen. 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 Sen. Trillanes and the Chinese representatives,” the statement went on.
Reacting to the Ombudsman’s resolution, Trillanes said: “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.”