Supreme Court to tackle Trillanes petition vs amnesty nullification

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2018 06:34 PM

MANILA - The petition filed by embattled opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that urges the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance voiding his amnesty is set to be tackled by the high court during its regular en banc session on Tuesday. 

ABS-CBN News sources revealed on Monday that there is no recommendation, so far, from Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, to whom Trillanes’ petition was raffled to, for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction (WPI) that will halt Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 while the case is pending.

Proclamation No. 572, signed by Duterte on August 31, voided Trillanes’ amnesty grant in connection with his participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, both of which were staged by then Navy officer Trillanes and other junior military officers who formed the ‘Magdalo’ rebel group. 

The executive issuance states there is no evidence on record of Trillanes’ compliance with the requirements of filling up a standard application form and a written admission of guilt.

As justice-in-charge of Trillanes’ petition, Peralta will recommend the issuance of a stay order if he sees that this is warranted. The court en banc or full court will then vote on the recommendation.

In the absence of such recommendation from Peralta, Malacañan will just be asked to submit its comment within a 10-day period. 

The worst case scenario for the senator is an outright dismissal of his petition in light of pending legal proceedings against him before two salas at the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with the two uprisings.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) separately urged the Makati City RTC Branch 148 and 150 to order Trillanes’ arrest and bar him from leaving the country via hold departure order.

Branch 148 handled the coup d’ etat case against Trillanes in connection with the Oakwood mutiny, while Branch 150 handled the rebellion charge against him over the Manila Peninsula siege.

Both cases were dismissed in September 2011 in light of the amnesty granted Trillanes by then President Benigno S. Aquino III.

With the voiding of Trillanes’ amnesty, the DOJ maintains the dismissal of the two cases “no longer has any leg to stand on.” 

Branch 148 will hear the DOJ’s motion on September 13th while Branch 150 Presiding Judge Elmo Alameda has deferred ruling, pending hearing.

'TRO IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE'

Atty. Romulo Macalintal, lawyer of Trillanes' ally, Vice-President Leni Robredo, urged the SC on Monday to issue a TRO on Proclamation No. 572.

“The highest interest of justice will justify the [SC] to issue a [TRO] to stop the implementation of Proclamation 572 revoking the amnesty granted to Senator Trillanes by former Pres. Aquino… if we consider the fact that the liberty of a person which is the highest form of one’s freedom is at stake hence the need to, in the meantime, prevent the implementation of the said proclamation,” Macalintal told reporters.

Apart from insisting that he faithfully complied with all the necessary requirements for the amnesty grant, Trillanes’ petition argued that Malacañan committed grave abuse of discretion in “whimsically” issuing the assailed proclamation. 

It further argued that the voiding of the amnesty grant sans Congress’ concurrence was unconstitutional. 

“Since the power to grant amnesty is a power shared by the president with the members of both houses of Congress, it is most respectfully submitted that Pres. Duterte’s and/or respondents’ act of issuing and/or implementing Proclamation 572, Series 2018, which unilaterally attempts to revoke the amnesty jointly granted by the former President and majority of the members of both houses of Congress to the Petitioner, is clearly unconstitutional as it violates the constitutional design clearly making the said power a joint power of the President and the members of both houses of Congress,” Trillanes’ petition stated. 

Under Section 19, Article VII (executive department) of the 1987 Constitution, the president “shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the members of the congress.” 

Trillanes also accused Duterte of resorting to ‘squid tactics’ in attempting to silence a member of the political opposition.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, earlier explained politics had nothing to do with the president’s action as he stressed Duterte was merely upholding the law.

"This is not an issue of political opposition but it is a matter of compliance with the law, we are just following the rule of law here,” Guevarra said in a news conference on September 4.