Philippines police arrest staunch Duterte critic amid political standoff
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Philippines police arrest staunch Duterte critic amid political standoff

SENATOR Antonio Trillanes, one of firebrand Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, was arrested on Tuesday following an intense political standoff that has lasted for weeks.

Trillanes was arrested just minutes after a court issued a warrant on revived charges of rebellion that was dropped in 2011 after he was granted amnesty, according to Reuters.

In recent weeks, Duterte withdrew the 2010 amnesty granted to Trillanes, who was a junior naval officer who led two unsuccessful coup attempts 15 years ago, and ordered his arrest.

SEE ALSO: Philippines’ Duterte takes shot at foreign critics as ‘human targets’  

Trillanes had accused Duterte of hiding wealth and being responsible for extrajudicial killings of thousands of drug suspects, claims which Duterte vehemently denies.

The senator also backed the push by activists and families of victims to have Duterte indicted in the International Criminal Court (ICC), offering protection to those who seek justice against the president.

“This is a debacle and a defeat of democracy,” Trillanes told reporters as he was being escorted by arresting officers.

“We expect other forms of harassment in the days to come,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Trillanes should stop grandstanding.

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A handout photo from Philippine National Police showing a mugshot of Senator Antonio Trillanes being taken at Makati police headquarters in Makati City, Metro Manila in Philippines September 25, 2018. Source: Reuters

“The court has spoken,” he said in a statement.

“Let us stop the drama by press conference and allow the legal process to take its course.”

The arrest also comes after Duterte claims he has evidence of a plot to assassinate him in a sharp criticism against the country’s military which had refused to arrest Trillanes without a warrant.

On Tuesday, Duterte told a state-owned television network that he possessed a recording provided by a foreign country that a group of politicians from the opposition had banded together with Maoist rebels and former military officials to oust or kill him.

SEE ALSO: Philippines’ Duterte claims there is a plot to murder him

Earlier, the Duterte had called on the military to remove him in a coup if it saw him as unfit to be the president.

A poll released on Tuesday showed Duterte was suffering the biggest slump in ratings of his presidency in the third quarter, as public unease grows over rising inflation and cost of living.

The leader’s critics have often accused him of trying to divert the attention of public and prioritising personal agendas instead of addressing inflation.