Trillanes coup d'etat case up for resolution

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2018 06:46 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2018 01:40 AM

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (center) is surrounded by journalists as he posts bail at the Makati Regional Trial court after being arrested in Manila on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Noel Celis, Agence France-Presse

MANILA (UPDATED) - The coup d'etat case against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over the 2003 Oakwood mutiny is already up for resolution.

This after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its reply to Trillanes' supplemental pleading at the Makati City Regional Trial court Branch 148. 

The document is the last requirement before the court decides on the justice department's request for a warrant of arrest and hold departure order against Trillanes.

The DOJ insisted on the "best evidence rule" in closing its arguments on its plea for the immediate arrest of Trillanes.

Despite affidavits submitted by Trillanes to support his claim that he faithfully filed the official application form for amnesty over his participation in the 2007 uprising and the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, the DOJ said the original document or a duplicate is the best evidence for his case.

The DOJ filed separate motions for issuance of arrest warrant and hold departure order before Makati RTC branches 148 and 150 in its bid to revive the coup and rebellion cases. Trillanes had been separately indicted for rebellion before the trial court’s branch 150; the trial court ordered his arrest on Tuesday, and allowed him to post bail at P200,000.

“Col. Josefa C. Berbigal (witness for Trillanes) stated under oath that accused Trillanes filed his application for amnesty on January 5, 2011. However, there is no available copy of the said application in the records of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Accused Trillanes is likewise unable to refute this AFP certification when he failed to present, at the very least, a duplicate copy or photocopy of his duly accomplished application form,” the DOJ’s reply stated. 

As to Berbigal’s statement that Trillanes’ application was “in order, complete and in compliance with all of the requirements of Proclamation No. 75, series of 2010, as well as its implementing rules,” the DOJ said Berbigal merely mentioned having received the application form and asked Trillanes to read the pre-printed statement provided in the form for a “general admission of guilt.”

“She did not categorically state having received a narration of facts by Trillanes of his involvement/participation in the Oakwood mutiny on July 27, 2003 and the Peninsula Manila Hotel incident on November 29, 2007, as required in the application form. Thus, the foregoing statement of Col. Berbigal is not accurate, if not downright false,” the DOJ stressed.

“Recall that accused Trillanes never admitted his guilt for the commission of coup d’ etat. His adamant refusal to admit his guilt for the commission of coup d’ etat was made apparent when he only admitted to ‘breaking rules,’” it added. 

Another affidavit presented by Trillanes was that of former Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta, which states that the Department of National Defense Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee deliberated on the applications and “would discuss the merits and issues of the applications… [t]hat the matter of the correct filling up of the portions on the admission of involvement/participation in any of the three subject incidents (2003 and 2007 uprisings, and the February 2006 Marines standoff), admission of guilt/violation of laws, and recantation of all previous inconsistent statements were verified, confirmed and checked by the Secretariat and the Committee.”

The DOJ said Azcueta’s statement “is belied” by the DND Administrative Service’s Records Division which attests that it has no record on file of any minutes of deliberations or any other investigative proceeding pertaining to Trillanes’ amnesty application. 

The DOJ also said double jeopardy has not set in in the case because no judgment of acquittal or conviction was handed down by the court. 

The trial court has submitted the DOJ’s motion for resolution following receipt of the DOJ’s reply.

Trillanes, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, remains holed up at the Senate complex in Pasay City since President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 572 voiding his amnesty. 

The lawmaker has accused Mr. Duterte of being a “dictator,” and “obsessed” with silencing him through “legal harassment.” 

For its part, the DOJ maintained that the trial courts’ judgments in September 2011 dismissing the charges against Trillanes in light of the reprieve were “void judgments.”