MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was given provisional liberty for Christmas on Monday night.
He was released from detention at the Camp Crame Custodial Center around 9:20 p.m. He arrived at his house in Cainta later in the evening.
Trillanes is on provisional liberty, according to his lawyer Reynaldo Robles.
He will be a free man once the government amnesty program he had applied for takes effect, his lawyer said in an interview with ANC's Business Nightly.
He was in detention for more than 7 years.
Trillanes, then a Navy lieutenant senior grade, was the spokesman of the Magdalo group of junior officers and soldiers who occupied the plush Oakwood Premiere apartments (now Ascott Makati) in late July 2003. The group demanded the resignation of then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some of the members of her Cabinet citing graft and corruption allegations.
He later walked out of a court hearing the coup d’etat charges against him in November 2007 with then Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and some members of the Magdalo group and triggered a standoff at the The Peninsula Manila hotel in the heart of the Makati Central Business District.
In 2007, while in detention, he successfully ran for a Senate seat but has yet to attend a session of the upper chamber. As head of a Senate committee, Trillanes, however, held a committee hearing while in detention.
President Benigno Aquino III issued Proclamation No. 75 last November 24.
The proclamation grants amnesty to all active and former personnel of the military, police force and their supporters who may have committed crimes in connection with the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines standoff, and the Manila Peninsula incident during the Arroyo administration.
Both chambers of Congress later concurred with the amnesty proclamation.
The amnesty for Trillanes and the Magdalo soldiers will officially take 15 days after Malacañang’s publication of the proclamation.
Trillanes thanks Aquino
Trillanes, who was elected into office while in detention, thanked the President for the amnesty proclamation.
"I would like to express my gratitude once again to President Aquino and all those who made this amnesty possible. Likewise, I thank my family, friends and supporters who patiently stood by us through this long and difficult journey,” he said in a handwritten statement on Monday.
“Finally to our countrymen, be assured of our unwavering commitment to selflessly serve our country and people. May God bless us all."
Robles said Trillanes’ release order was signed by Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 Judge Oscar Pimentel.
Pimentel earlier deferred the promulgation of the decision on coup d'etat cases filed against Trillanes and members of the so-called Magdalo Group involved in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.
Pimentel had explained the deferment was made in light of Congress' approval of Aquino's amnesty proclamation.
Robles said Pimentel’s release order required that Trillanes be turned over to custody of the Senate.
Senate accepts custody
“Earlier this evening, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile issued a letter accepting the custody of Senator Trillanes and after the requisite clearances from PNP [Philippine National Police] hierarchy and the AFP [Armed Forces] as well as the required medical clearances, he has just been released 5 minutes ago,” the lawyer said.
Robles added that Trillanes’ temporary liberty is in effect until the processing of his amnesty application is finalized.
“Then, the formal dismissal of the charges [against Trillanes] could be done na by the court,” he added.
"He is officially technically under Senate custody but the Senate president has decided that considering his circumstances, there is no danger of flight,” Robles said.
“The Senate president allowed him to go home, of course with his regular security, who were actually Senate personnel,” he said.
Enrile, in an interview with ANC’s The World Tonight, confirmed that Trillanes will be officially under the Senate’s custody.
“What I did was simply to accept custody,” he said. “I suppose the order of the court implicitly carried the mandate that he will be in custody until the proclamation is granted in his favor.”
With the provisional release of Trillanes, only Marines Capt. Nicanor Faeldon of the Magdalo group remains in detention. Faeldon has also petitioned the Makati RTC judge for temporary liberty.
According to Philippine Navy acting spokesperson Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Giovanni Bacordo, there is still no advice from the court to release Faeldon. Bacordo said that they will release him once they receive a court order. With reports from Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News and ANC