Makati court to hear Trillanes appeal on arrest order Friday

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2018 04:27 PM

MANILA- The Makati City court handling the rebellion case against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will hear Friday his plea to reconsider the arrest warrant against him.

The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 on Sept. 25 ordered the senator's arrest after it ruled that Trillanes failed to prove that he applied for amnesty.

It also relied on a news report saying Trillanes did not admit to the coup d’etat and rebellion charges against him. Admission of guilt is required in the grant of amnesty.

The rebellion case, filed against him for his role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, and a separate coup d'etat case lodged against him for leading the 2003 Oakwood mutiny were revived after President Rodrigo Duterte voided his amnesty. 

Trillanes was arrested on Sept. 25 and posted bail on the same day. 

In his motion filed on Oct. 1, Trillanes disputed the court’s reliance on the certification from the military to conclude that he did not apply for amnesty.

“LTC Andrade never said, claimed or implied that former accused Trillanes did not file his application for amnesty," the motion stated.

It was a reference to Lt. Col. Thea Joan Andrade from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (J1) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who issued a certification stating that "there is no available copy of his application for amnesty in the records."

"All LTC Andrade stated is that ‘there is no available copy of his application for amnesty in the records.’ Obviously, this is different from the baseless claim being asserted by the Prosecution that former Accused Trillanes did not file his amnesty application,” it added.

The Trillanes camp is also asking the court to receive evidence on the factual issues referred to it by the Supreme Court.

The senator asked the court to apply the evidentiary rule that public officials are presumed to have regularly performed their duties in issuing his certificate of amnesty, absent any showing of irregularity or failure to perform their duty.

The court accorded Duterte's Proclamation No. 572, which voided Trillanes’ amnesty, the presumption of validity and legality.

But the senator's camp said the President has no power to declare void a proclamation of his predecessor and a final and executory court decision, as this is an exercise of judicial power.

“[T]he power to decide questions on the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation, as well as the power to review the decisions of lower courts, essentially involves the exercise of judicial power. And so is the power to review, nullify and/or declare the nullity of court decisions. It is vested not in the President but in the Supreme Court and other courts created by law,” said Trillanes’ motion.

Duterte's order, according to Trillanes' motion, constitutes usurpation of judicial power.

In the same motion, Trillanes said the court should not have relied on a news article supposedly showing he did not admit guilt as that would amount to double hearsay. 

The title of the article, he pointed out, in fact, showed he had applied for amnesty and admitted to “breaking the rules.”

Instead, Trillanes said, the court should consider the personal testimonies of four witnesses, including those of Col. Josefa Berbigal and former Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta, the head of secretariat and the chair, respectively, of the DND Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee, which prove Trillanes applied for amnesty and admitted his guilt.

The Trillanes camp insisted the best proof of the senator’s application is his certificate of amnesty.

He urged the court to allow both parties to present their witnesses and evidence, in accordance with the Supreme Court resolution directing the courts to make a factual determination as to whether or not Trillanes filed an application for amnesty and whether or not he admitted his guilt for the crimes and/or acts subject of the amnesty.

The Makati RTC Branch 148 recently concluded proceedings on Trillanes' separate coup d'etat case and has yet to rule on the justice department's plea for the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order against him.