A Makati judge on Monday denied the motion filed by state prosecutors to issue a hold departure order and a warrant of arrest against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in connection with the coup d’etat case against him for his participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
In denying the state’s motion, Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 said he saw “no reason to disturb the doctrine of immutability of a final and executory judgment.”
The case against Trillanes was dismissed in 2011 after then-President Benigno Aquino III granted him an amnesty.
The government, however, wants that dismissal thrown out after President Rodrigo Duterte voided the amnesty granted to Trillanes through Proclamation 572.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon confirmed the decision but said he had not read the full resolution yet. He also said the judge also affirmed the validity of Proclamation 572.
In his decision, Soriano emphasized the finality of the court’s decision on the coup d’etat case.
“Subsequent jurisprudence may forge new horizons in which exceptions to the immutability of a final and executory judgment may be born,” the Makati City judge said. “For now, the court finds itself powerless to disturb the said doctrine even if it had sustained the factual bases for the issuance of Proclamation No. 572.”
The Makati City court also ruled that Trillanes did file an application for amnesty and admitted his guilt for his participation in the Oakwood mutiny, among others, based on the “unrebutted evidence, both preponderant and admissible secondary” presented by the senator.
On the other hand, Soriano said he found “no basis to believe that Proclamation No. 572 has breached any constitutional guaranty or that it has encroached on the constitutional power of either the judicial or the executive branch.”
Trillanes has challenged the proclamation before the Supreme Court.
Soriano’s ruling contradicted the order by Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati City RTC, Branch 150, who ordered Trillanes’ arrest for rebellion, in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, but allowed him to post bail in late September.
Soriano released his decision nearly a month after the DOJ motion was first submitted for resolution.
The DOJ had sought the revival of the criminal cases against Trillanes upon orders from President Duterte who issued Proclamation 572 voiding the senator’s amnesty granted by former President Benigno Aquino III.
The presidential proclamation was based on Trillanes’ alleged failure to apply for amnesty and to admit his guilt, two “minimum requirements” for the amnesty grant. Trillanes denied the allegations and submitted proof against the charges.
Trillanes also asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the issuance of Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572, revoking the amnesty granted to him.
In the Oct. 5 hearing, Trillanes’ legal counsel presented witnesses, two of whom were part of the ad hoc Defense committee that processed amnesty applications, who testified that they saw Trillanes file an application for amnesty, which contained a section on the admission of guilt.
On the other hand, government witnesses told the court that there were no records not only of Trillanes’ application but of proceedings in connection with applications pursuant to the 2010 Aquino amnesty grant.
Trillanes branded Soriano’s decision a victory for justice, rule of law, and democracy.
“Let’s remember this day. The truth won. Justice won. The rule of law won, democracy won and only one person did that,” said Trillanes, referring to the judge.
Trillanes, a staunch critic of the President, acknowledged how Soriano “single-handedly sustained justice and the rule of law despite the extreme pressures coming from the Duterte regime.”
Trillanes vowed to continue his criticism of the Duterte administration.
“I am full of energy now. They really have to watch out,” he said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said the Department of Justice will elevate to the higher courts its bid to arrest Trillanes.
In a press conference, Guevarra said he will discuss with the prosecution team their next move.
“The cases in Makati RTC Branch 148 and Branch 150 are essentially the same, but the judges had [a] different appreciation. Both parties may elevate the rulings to a higher court,” he said.
The DOJ chief also downplayed the ruling of RTC Branch 148, which Trillanes considered a legal victory.
“Nobody can claim total victory in this ruling of Makati RTC Branch 148,” he said. “The RTCs were simply directed by the SC to resolve factual issues which are instrumental to the case in the SC. So we are done in that stage,” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace respected the judge’s decision and welcomed his affirmation of the validity of Proclamation 572.