'Mali siya': Sereno hits judge who issued Trillanes arrest order

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2018 07:50 PM

MANILA - Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday said the regional trial court judge erred in ordering the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes.

Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda misappreciated the evidence presented during the hearing of the Department of Justice's motion for the issuance of an alias writ of warrant of arrest against the legislator, said Sereno.

“Mali yung kanyang pag-appreciate at pag-weigh ng evidence that was presented. Shinift niya ang burden of proof to someone who has all the hallmarks of a valid order that has been given to him," she told ABS-CBN News at the sidelines of the public introduction of her new movement, Bawat Isa Mahalaga.

(His appreciation and weighing of evidence presented was wrong. He shifted the burden of proof to someone who has all the hallmarks of a valid order that has been given to him.)

"It is on the part of government that has to prove that no application was ever filed. They were not able to prove that,” she said.

In his order, Alameda said that “[s]ince Senator Trillanes wants to establish a legal right on the amnesty granted to him, he has therefore the burden of proving his compliance with the minimum requirements to entitle him to be granted amnesty under Proclamation No. 75, series of 2010.”

Alameda ruled that Trillanes failed to substantiate his claim that he filed an application for amnesty when he was unable to present the “original hard copy, a duplicate copy, or even a photocopy showing that he personally accomplished and filed with the DND (Department of National Defense) Amnesty Committee his Official Amnesty Form duly acknowledged and stamped marked received…”

Alameda did not consider the pictures and documents Trillanes presented, including affidavits of former DND Usec Honorio Ascueta and Col. Josefa Berbigal, the Chairman and Head of Secretariat, respectively, of the DND Amnesty Committee.

Instead, he relied on the certification from the Armed Forces of the Philippines that it has no copy of the senator’s amnesty application, to conclude that Trillanes did not file any application.

But Sereno thinks otherwise and warns against the implications of this logic.

“It was never Senator Trillanes’ burden to do it. Kung gagawin mo ‘yun, e di all the certificates that we have, presumptively also void ab initio kung wala tayong kopya ng application form," she said.

(It was never Senator Trillanes' burden to do it. If you will do that, then all the certificates that we have are also presumed to be void ab initio if we don't have a copy of the application form.)

"Even our marriage contract kung walang kopya, driver’s license, passports natin. Hindi naman ganun ka-importante yan na nasa ating possession because it is the custodial officer who has the legal duty to keep it, and that’s DND,” she added.

(Even our marriage contract, if you do not have the copy of the application form, our driver's license, passports. It's not important to have that in our possession because it is the custodial officer who has the legal duty to keep it, and that’s DND.)

Sereno said that the DND, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and its Amnesty Commission should have Trillanes' application form, and if the officials lost this, then they committed "infidelity in the custody of documents," which is a crime. 

She said the judge should have asked the custodian why the document was missing.

“May contrary evidence si Senator Trillanes na nag-file siya ng application. And he could not have come to the conclusion na wala talaga. Instead, he should have ordered an examination on whether they exercised fidelity in the custody of documents,” she said.

(Senator Trillanes has contrary evidence that he filed the application. He (Alameda) could not have come to the conclusion that there really is none. Instead, he should have ordered an examination on whether they exercised fidelity in the custody of documents.)

Sereno said Trillanes’ ordeal was an opportunity for the judge to
exhibit independence from the executive branch and uphold the
Constitution.

She said this is a violation of the equal protection clause, as she lamented how the Palace said Trillanes' amnesty was revoked because he was the loudest.

"This is a violation of the equal protection clause. This is a violation of the constitutional role of amnesty as wiping out all traces of the crime,” she said.

“Nakakakilabot. ‘Yan na nga sinasabi ko e. The reason why I had to stand and fight regardless of the consequences is because if our judges cannot be independent and fight,” she said, referring to moves to oust her which she eventually blamed on the President.

(It's terrifying. That's what I've been saying. The reason why I had to stand and fight regardless of the consequences is because if our judges cannot be independent and fight.)

In another dig at the judge, Sereno said doing what is right is more important than not ever being promoted. 

“Because at the end of the day, you have to face your maker. The Bible has a lot of requirements on the standards for judges and the Code of Judicial Conduct has very strong words for judicial independence,” she said.

“Napaka-nakakapanlumo ang nangyari kay Senator Trillanes. At
nakakapanlumo na ang mga huwes natin, nagtatanong na ngayon ang taong bayan kung maaasahan ba natin sila? Sana ang mga huwes natin kaya nating tinagalain. Proud sana tayo. Ganyan pa ba ang sitwasyon ngayon?”

(What happened to Senator Trillanes is very disheartening. People are asking if we can still trust our judges. The judges should be looked up to. We should be proud? Is that still the case?)