MANILA- A Makati City court's decision to reject the requested arrest of opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is a "huge political slap" to President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, a lawyers' group said Tuesday.
The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) said the ruling of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 should serve as a "reality check."
"The court ruling, seen by many both in the legal and non-legal circles as a courageous act, is a huge political slap on this vindictive government that uses and abuses all means within its command," the NUPL said in a statement.
In a decision released Monday, Judge Andres Soriano rejected the Department of Justice's plea to have Trillanes arrested, saying the coup d'etat case against the senator was already dismissed on Sept. 21, 2011, and that the dismissal was "final and executory."
The revival of the case comes after President Rodrigo Duterte invalidated Trillanes' amnesty grant on allegations that the senator failed to properly apply for it and admit guilt.
Trillanes was arrested nearly a month ago for rebellion, on orders of the Makati RTC Branch 150 over the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege. He posted bail on the same day.
The DOJ had asked the two 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.
"The ruling simply used common sense, logic and standing legal doctrines and principles in disposing of the legal issue that camouflaged what is really a politically-motivated persecution," the NUPL said.
"We do maintain that President Duterte’s sweeping and defective proclamation revoking Senator Trillanes’ amnesty is what is actually void ab initio," it added.
The NUPL also hailed Soriano's ruling, saying the judge "essentially stood his ground and asserted judicial independence with his studied order."
Malacañang on Monday said it respects the decision of the Makati RTC Branch 148 but stressed this is not yet the end of the government’s moves against the opposition lawmaker.
"As we have said, the Executive Branch has and will always bow down to the majesty of the law, and it will not think twice in doing the same for this particular case. Compared to those personalities in the opposition, we will not unfairly appeal to the pity of the public but will address this matter head on in the proper forum,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.