Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV addresses reporters outside his Philippine Senate office after a regional trial court judge issued a ruling denying the Justice Department's request for an arrest warrant against him Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

  • The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody
  • Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption

MANILA: A Philippine judge rejected on Monday an effort by President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest one of his fiercest critics, a decision hailed by opponents as a check on the leader and a victory for the rule of law.
The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody on charges for which the lawmaker had already been granted amnesty.
Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption and his son of involvement in drug dealing.
"We wish to thank Judge Andres Soriano who has singlehandedly upheld justice and the rule of law in the country despite extreme pressure coming from the Duterte regime," a beaming Trillanes told reporters.
The order for Trillanes' arrest stems from the president voiding in September an amnesty granted eight years ago to the senator, an ex-navy officer, for his role in two coup attempts in the mid-2000s.
Duterte alleged the lawmaker did not complete the requirements of filing an official application and admitting guilt, but Monday's ruling threw out those arguments.
However, this decision is unlikely to be the final word on this case. The Philippines' top court is weighing the constitutional questions posed by Duterte's amnesty revocation and the government all but pledged to appeal.
"This is not the end. Nobody has to claim total victory here," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters. "This may be subject to review by the higher courts."
Monday's news came as Trillanes was on bail over another military uprising case that was revived by Duterte revoking the lawmaker's amnesty.
His arrest last month in that case made Trillanes the second senator critical of Duterte's drug war to be detained. Leila de Lima has been behind bars since February 2017 on charges she says were concocted to silence her.
Human Rights Watch called Monday's decision a temporary victory for rule of law in the Philippines.
"The Duterte administration's campaign is designed to silence Trillanes," HRW researcher Carlos Conde told AFP.
"We expect it (the government) to continue, even ramp up, this political harassment and intimidation," he added.
Trillanes had faced rebellion and coup d'etat charges for being among military officers who rose up against then president Gloria Arroyo over alleged corruption and mismanagement.
He led scores of junior officers in taking over part of a main district of Manila in 2003 and seized a posh Manila hotel in 2007 along with several armed followers as they demanded Arroyo's resignation.


Democrats to probe Ivanka Trump’s private email use for gov’t work

Updated 4 min 32 sec ago
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Democrats to probe Ivanka Trump’s private email use for gov’t work

WASHINGTON: Democrats called on Tuesday for an investigation into US President Donald Trump’s daughter and top White House adviser Ivanka Trump following reports that she repeatedly used a personal email account last year for government business.
A White House review of Ivanka Trump’s email found she used her personal account up to 100 times to contact other Trump administration officials, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the review.
Use of a personal account for government business could potentially violate a law requiring preservation of all presidential records.
Representatives for the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
President Trump, a Republican, repeatedly blasted his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election campaign over her use of personal email and a private server while she was US secretary of state, and promised to investigate her once in office.
Representatives for US Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the panel would investigate White House communications when Democrats take over the US House of Representatives in January.
“We plan to continue our investigation of the presidential records act and federal records act, and we want to know if Ivanka complied with the law,” his office said a statement, adding that a panel probe of White House correspondence began last year but was dropped by Republicans who currently control the committee. Democrats are taking over following their election gains this month.
Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, Abbe Lowell, told the Post that her use of personal email was different from Clinton’s case because there was no private server, none of the messages contained classified information and they occurred before Ivanka Trump was aware of government record-keeping regulations.
He said Ivanka Trump turned over all her government-related emails months ago so they could be stored with other White House records, the Post reported.
Ivanka Trump’s emails came to light when White House officials began reviewing them in response to a lawsuit from watchdog group American Oversight, according to the Post. The paper said she used the personal account for official business fewer than 100 times in 2017.
The New York Times also reported on Ivanka Trump’s email use.
Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state prompted an FBI investigation that overshadowed the 2016 election and still draws ire from Trump and calls from his supporters to “lock her up.”
The FBI concluded Clinton’s actions were extremely careless but did not recommend any charges be filed. Clinton expressed regret for her decision to use a private server but said she violated no rules.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary panel, said there was “no way” Ivanka Trump did not know the rules after the 2016 campaign and that there were larger questions about the Trump family’s mixing of private enterprise and government duties.
“It raises the issue of whether there has been anything improper. There should be some kind of investigation,” either by Congress or the White House ethics office, Blumenthal told CNN.
The White House began reviewing senior aides’ email use last year after reports that Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, also a top White House adviser, used private email for government work.