MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is free to dream about running for president, Malacañang said Thursday, as it challenged him to file charges if he can prove that President Rodrigo Duterte is involved in killings.
Trillanes, a vocal critic of Duterte, announced Wednesday that he would seek the presidency in 2022 because Vice President Leni Robredo is allegedly planning to run for governor of Camarines Sur. The former senator, however, clarified that he would “wholeheartedly step aside” if Robredo decides to gun for the presidency.
Robredo's spokesman Barry Gutierrez has denied that the vice president is preparing to run for governor and clarified that she remains open to all options, including a possible candidacy for president.
"First, it's free to dream, so let former senator Trillanes dream of becoming president. It's the right of every Filipino," presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who considered running for senator in the 2019 polls, said at a press briefing.
"Second, it seems that he is not going to run because Vice President Leni has clarified that she is still running, at least the plan is still there," he added.
Roque also disputed Trillanes' claim that the survival of the Philippines is at stake in the 2022 polls.
"His (Trillanes) statement about survival is nonsense because there is no issue that we won't win against COVID-19 and there is no threat to our democratic institution," the Palace spokesman said.
Roque also challenged Trillanes to file cases against Duterte if he has evidence linking the President to killings.
"If he has cases to file, he should file it. The problem with senator Trillanes is he just talks. If he really has evidence that the President ordered the killing of people, he should have filed the case already," Roque said.
"The immunity from suit only means that the case won't move in court as long as he (Duterte) is the sitting president. He (Trillanes) has not filed any case in the last five years. So if he has not filed anything in the last five years, I don't know how he can file a case after six years," he added.
Trillanes last December said he filed a communication with the ICC against President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2017 alleging crimes against humanity.
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