Government lawyers have filed a formal objection before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 to the documentary evidence filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on defects in the amnesty he availed of in connection with the pending coup d’etat charges against him.
In a 10-page comment, the Department of Justice prosecution panel, led by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, filed its objection to the documentary exhibits of Trillanes.
Pending before the court is the prosecution panel’s motion for the issuance of a hold departure order and a warrant of arrest against the embattled lawmaker, whom state lawyers claimed had failed to comply with all the requirements for a valid grant of amnesty for acts he committed when he was still in the military.
Among the challenged documents was the original copy of the affidavit of Lt. Col. Josefa C. Berbigal of the Judge Advocate General Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dated Sept. 20, 2018.
The prosecution panel said they object to the purpose of the document because “Col. Berbigal failed to substantiate during her testimony on Oct. 5, 2018 her statements in her affidavit that accused Trillanes admitted his guilt to the offenses subject of the amnesty.”
“Instead, during her cross examination, she testified that accused Trillanes only admitted guilt to the incidents but not the offenses for which he is being charged,” the prosecution noted, adding that Berbigal’s statement that the application for amnesty was in order, complete and in compliance with all the requirements of Proclamation No. 75 is “misleading.”
The prosecution added that during her testimony, Berbigal could not confirm this allegation by presenting the original, duplicate or photocopy of the application.
The prosecution added that he has no authority to conclude that Trillanes complied with all the requirements of Proclamation No. 75, adding that as mere head of the secretariat, she is not the approving authority to determine who among the applicants are qualified.
The DOJ added that Berbigal had “no authority to administer oath to accused Trillanes because Department of National Defense Department Order No. 323 specifically provides for a notary public to be assigned at the secretariat who will duly administer the oath of the amnesty applicants.”
They further objected to the testimony of former DND undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta, noting that the latter “failed to substantiate his claim that he caused the strict compliance with all the requirements set forth by Proclamation No. 75 and DND Circular No. 1.”
The panel also objected to the affidavit of Dominador E. Rull Jr., citing that “it is self-serving and contains baseless and biased statements, the witness being the executive assistant of accused Trillanes,” and had “no authority to determine whether the alleged application form was properly filled up by accused Trillanes.”
The prosecution also objected to the affidavit of Emmanuel C. Tirador, a co-accused of Trillanes in the case.
The DOJ also opposed Trillanes’ counsels’ presentation of a blank application form for amnesty, citing that “a mere blank application form cannot prove the existence of a duly filled up application form.”
The form, the prosecution said, “cannot prove admission of guilt by the accused Trillanes… because the same document requires the submission or attachment of a separate narration of facts of his involvement/participation in the offenses by which he is charged.”
Meanwhile, Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 slated for October 12 the hearing on Trillanes’ appeal on Friday.
Alameda is the same judge who ordered Trillanes’ arrest last month on rebellion charges.
Trillanes had sought to set aside the “premature” arrest order for its supposed lack of legal and factual basis.
Trillanes has, through his counsel, urged the court to “take a second look” at its September 25 arrest order that effectively revived a dismissed rebellion case against him over the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege.
The senator asked the court to vacate and set aside the arrest order, to set the case for hearing for the proper reception of evidence, and to ultimately deny the government’s motion seeking an arrest and a hold departure order against him.
According to Trillanes, Alameda’s ruling, Trillanes sets “dangerous, deep-seated and wide-ranging implications” on the country’s judicial and legal system.
“To put it simply, the assailed ruling of the Honorable Court is tantamount to a total and complete surrender of the independence of the judiciary and a tragic capitulation to the President of the judicial power lodged upon the Courts by the Constitution,” Trillanes’ motion said.
The president in August declared as “void ab initio” the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2011 because the latter reportedly failed to file an application and to admit his guilt over the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege.
The publication of the proclamation on September 4 set in motion the Department of Justice’s efforts to pursue the revival of coup d’etat and rebellion cases against Trillanes, a staunch Duterte critic, which were dismissed after he was granted an amnesty.
Trillanes argued that the court’s finding that he did not apply for amnesty had “totally and absolutely no basis at all,” which belies the prosecution’s claim that he did not file an application was anchored on “mere innuendo.”
It claimed that there was nothing in the certificate issued by Lieutenant Colonel Thea Joan Andrade - which states there is no available copy of Trillanes’ amnesty application - that the senator did not apply at all.
Trillanes’ appeal also said that the prosecution failed to offer enough basis to overturn the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty -- that is, that the senator would not have been granted amnesty if he did not comply with all the requirements.
It also claimed that the GMA News Online article that the prosecution cited as basis that he did not admit his guilt was susceptible to misquotation and misreporting, and amounted to “double hearsay.”
It also said that the four defense witnesses -- two of whom were part of the committee that processed amnesty applications -- and the supporting documents the Trillanes camp submitted to the court “should clearly prevail over the specious and self-serving insinuations of the prosecution.”