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Trillanes still a free man; court yet to rule on arrest

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Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will remain a free man until the Makati City regional trial court grants the Department of Justice’s motion seeking the issuance of an updated warrant of arrest against him, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.

Trillanes still a free man; court yet to rule on arrest
PAYING BACK IN SPADES. Crenelated Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, holed up at the Senate since Tuesday after the grant of amnesty to him was canceled, shows to members of media on Wednesday documents related to the grant during a news conference at the Senate. Ey Acasio

The court earlier opted to hear Trillanes’ side before deciding whether to grant the DOJ motion.

“The police will have to wait for the warrant,” he said in a text message, after President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the amnesty granted him in 2010 and ordered his arrest.

Members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group are already at the Senate, ready to arrest the mutineer-turned-senator.

But Guevarra said he was speaking only based on rules applying to civilians and regular courts.

“I am not in the military so I don’t know their rules pertaining to arrests,” he said.

Aside from the criminal prosecution, the proclamation issued by Duterte also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to proceed with the court martial case against the senator, who led unsuccessful coups against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2003 and 2007.

Trillanes was granted an amnesty in 2011 by his political ally, President Benigno Aquino III.

Makati RTC Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano has set a hearing on Sept. 13 and ordered Trillanes to file a comment on the DOJ petition within five days.

In seeking the issuance of a hold-departure order and an updated warrant, the DOJ noted that the case of coup d’état against Trillanes has yet to be terminated by the court despite the issuance of Proclamation No. 75, which granted him amnesty.

The Makati City RTC Branch 148 merely granted the motion of Trillanes to cancel the promulgation by reason of Proclamation No. 75, said Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera.

“It is clear that this instant case is still pending with this honorable court and has yet to be terminated through a promulgation of judgment, which was merely suspended last Dec. 16, 2010,” the motion read.

Accused Trillanes is an incumbent Senator of the Republic. He has the means and resources to flee to another country in order to escape Philippine criminal jurisdiction. It is therefore imperative that a hold departure order be issued directing the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration to prevent him from leaving the Philippines during the pendency of this case,” the DOJ said.

Navera said once Trillanes is arrested, the DOJ would ask the court to set the date for the promulgation of the decision.

Trillanes, a former Navy lieutenant, is facing charges, including coup d’état, for leading uprisings against the government in 2003 and 2007, during the administration of then President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

These include mutiny at the Oakwood Premiere Hotel in Makati on July 27, 2003 and the Manila Peninsula siege on Nov. 29, 2007.

The coup d’ état case carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

If Duterte’s proclamation is upheld, Trillanes should be detained in Camp Aguinaldo where he was held prior to the granting of amnesty.

Duterte’s proclamation said Trillanes has no pending application for amnesty granted to all active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and supporters who joined the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines stand-off and the Nov. 29, 2007 Manila Peninsula takeover.

This effectively voided the amnesty granted to him by Aquino through Proclamation 75 issued in November 2010.

Despite the pending action of the Makati court, Trillanes said he would go to the Supreme Court to contest Duterte’s proclamation.

He said his lawyers will file a petition for a temporary restraining order with the Court to question the validity of Duterte’s Proclamation 572, which he branded as “trash.”

“For me, this goes beyond the political lines,” said Trillanes in a press conference in front of his Senate office where he spent the night after the President ordered his immediate arrest.

Upon the advice of lawyers and the Senate leadership, Trillanes opted to stay overnight in the Senate. He will continue to stay in his office while awaiting the issuance of his arrest warrant by a Makati court.

During a caucus Tuesday, senators agreed that they would not allow Trillanes to be arrested on the Senate premises.

Military operatives were also deployed outside the Senate premises since Tuesday or shortly after news about the President’s revocation of the senator’s amnesty broke out and even before the Department of Justice applied for an arrest warrant with the Makati court.

Trillanes said the application for a warrant was “an afterthought” and insisted his arrest had no basis.

He reiterated that his two cases before separate Makati courts were dismissed “with finality” after no opposition or motion for reconsideration were filed to question them within the 15-day period provided by the courts.

Trillanes provided the media copies of both orders—Crim. Case No. 03-2784 for coup d’etat dated Sept. 21; 2011, signed by Makati RTC Branch 148 Acting Presiding Judge Ma. Rita Bascos Sarabia and Crim. Case No. 07-3126 for rebellion, dated Sept. 7, 2011 and signed by Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda.

The amnesty was voided on two grounds: he allegedly failed to file an official application and he did not admit guilt. But the senator contested the charge and said he had duly fulfilled all the requirements for an amnesty.

He said the justices of the Supreme Court should be alarmed by the President’s proclamation, which showed he could exercise even legislative and judicial powers.

“If they affirm the presidential declaration, the President can now issue a warrant,” he said.

Trillanes said he was not hiding behind the Senate, but was questioning the legality of the order to have him arrested.

In a Facebook Live video, actor Robin Padilla, a political ally of the President, chided Trillanes for turning the Senate into a hotel and hiding there.

“Grow up first before you talk to me,” Trillanes said in response. “How old is Robin Padilla? Why has he not matured? It’s like he’s still in high school.”

Senators Ralph Recto and Francis Escudero, meanwhile, slammed what they called “the militarization” of the Senate, with soldiers and police positioned outside ready to arrest Trillanes.

“From what I know, there’s no warrant of arrest issued by any court,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto told reporters. “So what are they doing there? There is no warrant of arrest.

In a separate interview, Escudero said the continued presence of the military and policemen in the Senate compound made it appear the chamber has become militarized.

“Of course it is a concern because the Senate as an institution is being militarized,” he said.

He noted that first, Trillanes himself had already said that he would go with the arresting officers once the warrant of arrest against him is issued.

”Second, they have not yet shown a warrant. I do not know why they here,” he said. “It really looks bad. What they’re doing is overkill.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III disagreed, saying the soldiers and police were “additional security actually.”

Opposition and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano on Wednesday dismissed as persecution of the opposition the revocation of Trillanes’ amnesty.

Alejano, a former Marine officer, said what the President did against Trillanes signifies that the country “is sliding back to dictatorship, 32 years after [the People Power Revolution].”

Alejano, who was also part of the Oakwood mutiny to overthrow the Arroyo government, said he was with Trillanes when they applied for amnesty.

Presidential Spokesman said if Trillanes has not been arrested, it is because the police were showing respect to the Senate.

In a radio interview, Roque said: “The executive deparment issued already a warrant of arrest. No person would dare say he cannot be arrested.”

“But because committing coup d’etat equates to having a life-sentenced punishment, he needs to surrender. Senators do not have immunity when it comes to committing capital offenses,” the Palace official added.

Roque added that Trillanes would not be the first senator to be arrested, noting that Leila de Lima, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr. were senators when they were arrested.

Roque said the decision to revoke Trillanes’ amnesty was final.

“He may proceed to the court and argue that the executive’s decision is wrong on reasons that he

did apply and filed the necessary documents. That’s what you call the best evidence rule,” Roque said.

He dismissed a video showing Trillanes applying for the amnesty program.

“Those videos don’t mean anything. What we need is the document itself. The contents of the document need to be checked to prove that there is really an application. He must have admitted of the crimes he committed which, I think, did not happen,” Roque said.

The president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Abdiel Dan Fajardo, meanwhile, said the Makati court could argue it did not have the power to resurrect a dead case, which had been decided eight years ago.

But Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo defended Duterte’s decision to declare void ab initio (from the beginning) the amnesty granted to Trillanes, saying that it is “constitutionally allowed.”

Panelo said Trillanes did not only meet the requirements of the law but also abused the grant of amnesty after failing to comply with its terms and conditions.

“Your amnesty is akin to conditional pardon. If you were given a conditional pardon, you need to comply with the terms and conditions. If you do not comply, it will be cancelled,” Panelo said in a radio interview. With PNA


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