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Senator asks court to declare Duterte arrest order illegal

MANILA (AP): A Philippine senator who has taken refuge in the Senate to avoid an arrest order by President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to declare the order illegal and called on the military to defy it. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Duterte’s fiercest critic in Congress, told the high court in a petition that Duterte’s proclamation voiding his 2011 amnesty for links to failed coup attempts and ordering his arrest was baseless.

“Their basis for this proclamation is a big lie,” Trillanes told reporters in the Senate building, where he has remained since Duterte’s order was made public Tuesday. “It’s bogus, they only wanted to pin me down for being a critic of Mr. Duterte.” Known for his temper and outbursts against critics, Duterte has openly expressed anger against Trillanes, who has accused him of large-scale corruption and involvement in illegal drugs. Duterte has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The standoff has unfolded while Duterte is on a visit to Israel and Jordan. He is scheduled to fly home on Sunday. The Department of Justice said Duterte voided Trillanes’s amnesty because the senator did not file a formal amnesty application and admit guilt for his role in past coup attempts. Trillanes, however, has presented TV and newspaper reports, along with defense department documents, showing he applied for the amnesty and acknowledged his role in three military uprisings between 2003 and 2007.

Trillanes, 47, a former navy officer, was jailed for more than seven years for involvement in the army uprisings, including a 2003 mutiny against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when he and other young officers rigged part of a road in the Makati financial district with bombs and took over an upscale residential building. He and the other mutineers then demanded an end to government corruption and other irregularities. They surrendered after negotiations.

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