Lim says 'freedom just around the corner'
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE)- A Makati City judge on Wednesday granted the request of detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim to post bail in connection with the Manila Peninsula hotel siege in 2007.
Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 granted Trillanes's appeal to post P200,000 bail for his temporary freedom on the rebellion charges filed against him.
Trillanes's lawyer, Ernesto Francisco, said he will file before the court a motion to reduce the bail to P80,000 because his clients cannot afford the bail bond set by the judge.
The senator is facing charges of rebellion for leading the Manila Peninsula hotel siege in Makati in Nov. 29, 2007.
The judge also granted bail to 17 other suspects in the siege, including Lim, who is a candidate for senator under the Liberal Party.
Also allowed to post bail are Navy Lt. Senior Grade James Layug and Marine Cap. Gary Alejano, who are running for congressman of Taguig City and mayor of Sipalay City, respectively.
Francisco said the judge's decision proves that the government's rebellion cases filed against his clients are weak.
"They [prosecution] were not able to prove that the crime of rebellion was committed. They were not able to prove that there was public armed uprising," the lawyer said.
He said Alameda's decision did not actually come as a surprise because he was certain that the evidence presented by the prosecution in court was weak.
Among these were 4 firearms, which, he said, could have been planted, and a DVD copy of a video footage of Trillanes and the group's walkout from the Makati City court to the hotel.
He said the footage was declared inadmissible because the prosecution failed to present the person who actually took the footage.
Trillanes can’t post bail yet
Francisco, meanwhile, said Trillanes may still have to remain in detention because of a pending coup d'etat case he is facing before another Makati City court branch for the July 2003 hotel siege dubbed as the "Oakwood Mutiny."
He said the 16 other soldiers involved in the Manila Peninsula Hotel siege are also facing the same charge for the Oakwood mutiny, but all have been granted bail for this incident.
"Trillanes might have a problem. All of them are facing coup d'etat charges at [Makati City Regional Trial Court] Branch 148, only Trillanes has not been granted bail," the lawyer said.
Francisco, however, was optimistic that they can use Alameda's ruling as a precedent to reopen the bail hearing at Branch 148, which is presided by Judge Oscar Pimentel.
Lim, meanwhile, may also be facing the same problem. He is also facing a coup d'etat case for his alleged involvement in the failed mutiny in February 2006.
Also charged for his alleged involvement in the February 2006 mutiny is Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, who is running for senator under the Nacionalista Party.
Trillanes and Lim are currently detained at the Philippine National Police's custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
'Freedom just around the corner'
In a statement, Lim said the court's ruling on Trillanes's bail petition filed in 2007 raises his optimism that they will eventually be cleared of the rebellion charges.
"I extend my gratitude to Judge Alameda for treating us faily and without prejudice. His decision, though granting me and my men only temporary liberty, is a clear victory for those who are fervent in pursuing justice," the detained military general said.
He said that with the court's approval to post bail, he feels that "freedom is just around the corner."
Lim has been jailed for 4 years.
He and Querubin are attempting to repeat the phenomenal poll campaign of Trillanes, who was elected senator in 2007 despite being incarcerated.