MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) main office will keep its hands off a libel case filed before local prosecutors in Davao City against embattled opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office will resolve the case minus any interference from DOJ-Manila, even as he assured Trillanes’ camp that the indictment and President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the voiding of his amnesty grant are “purely coincidental.”
“No, I will not interfere in the conduct of the preliminary investigation. It is not proper,” Guevarra said in a text message.
“The timing of the filing of the libel complaints vs. Senator Trillanes, according to the complainants, had nothing to do with the nullification of the Senator’s amnesty. The libel complaints were filed on the anniversary date of the utterance of the allegedly derogatory defamatory statements,” he added.
The libel case was filed on September 6 by presidential son and resigned Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte and brother-in-law, Atty. Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor and First Daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The case stemmed from Trillanes’ alleged media pronouncements linking the younger Duterte and Carpio to alleged extortion activities targeting Uber and other ride-sharing firms.
Proclamation No. 572, which voided Trillanes’ amnesty in connection with his participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, was signed by Mr. Duterte on August 31.
The order stated as bases for the voiding Trillanes’ alleged failure to file the required application as well as the absence of any record of his admission of guilt.
Trillanes, who has accused the Duterte family of accumulating unexplained wealth and openly criticized the president’s war on drugs and other policies, has cried political persecution, accusing Mr. Duterte of trying to silence him and the political opposition.
MAKATI CASES VS TRILLANES TO PROCEED SANS SC TRO
The DOJ has resurrected 2 criminal cases against Trillanes before the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) following the voiding of his amnesty: a coup d’ etat case with the trial court’s Branch 148 in connection with the Oakwood mutiny; and a rebellion case with Branch 150 over the Manila Peninsula siege.
Both cases were dismissed in 2011 in light of the amnesty grant. With the voiding of the reprieve, the DOJ explains the dismissal “no longer has any leg to stand on.”
State prosecutors filed separate motions for issuance of arrest warrant and hold departure order against the senator in the 2 salas. Branch 148 will hear the motion on September 13, while Branch 150 may rule on the motion on Monday, September 10.
“Unless restrained by the SC, the trial courts may proceed,” Guevarra maintained, referring to Trillanes’ plea for the Supreme Court to nullify Proclamation No. 572.
Trillanes, along with other rebel soldiers involved in the 2003 and 2007 uprisings, was granted amnesty by former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Trillanes insists the amnesty cannot be voided or revoked, while Malacañang maintains it was void from the beginning.