'Umpisa pa lang ito': DOJ says issue of Trillanes amnesty still not over

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2018 07:50 PM

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the issue of President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation voiding the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is far from over.

This, after a Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) denied the DOJ's motion to have Trillanes arrested for coup d'etat, but upheld the president's proclamation voiding the former rebel soldier's amnesty.

"These factual findings are in direct contravention or the exact opposite of the factual findings of Branch 150 of the same court in Makati where the rebellion case is pending until the present," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Monday.

"We are now confronted with a situation where two branches of the same court have different factual findings, although in the case of Branch 148, it went further by saying that Proclamation No. 572 issued by President Duterte is valid and constitutional," he added.

With the decisions released by the 2 courts, Guevarra said both parties may elevate the issue to a higher court.

"This is not the end of it. To some extent, both parties were successful. DOJ, in so far as its contention that Proclamation No. 572 is valid and constitutional. On the other hand, also on the part of Senator Trillanes, the ruling was in his favor because of the factual findings of the trial court. We expect both parties may elevate this ruling of the RTC to a superior court," he said.

"This is just the beginning, this is not the end. Nobody has to claim total victory here. Umpisa pa lang ito, marami pang pupuntahan itong kasong ito," Guevarra added.

In the decision penned by Judge Andres Soriano of Makati RTC Branch 148, the court cited the records that show the coup d'etat case against Trillanes was already dismissed on September 21, 2011, and that the dismissal was "final and executory."

"Well established is the doctrine that a final and executory judgement shall be immutable. The court, in fact, loses jurisdiction over the case when its decision has become final and executory," the decision read.

In contrast, Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda granted last September 25 the DOJ’s plea for an arrest warrant against Trillanes over his rebellion case. The rebellion case was dismissed in 2011 pursuant to the amnesty granted by former President Benigno Aquino.

Trillanes posted bail on the same day of his arrest. 

The DOJ earlier asked the 2 Makati courts to order Trillanes' arrest and bar his departure from the country, arguing that the nullification of his amnesty meant that all cases against the senator must be pursued. 

The senator has insisted that his amnesty is valid and that he followed procedure.