Trillanes camp appeals court affirmation of Duterte order vs amnesty

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2018 08:28 PM

MANILA - The camp of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has asked the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 to reconsider its October 22 order upholding the legality and validity of Presidential Proclamation No. 572, which voided his amnesty in September.

President Rodrigo Duterte had voided the amnesty granted Trillanes in 2011, which absolved the former rebel of charges filed against him for leading uprisings against government in 2003 and 2007. The order cited Trillanes' supposed failure to file his amnesty application and admit guilt.

In the same October order, the Makati court denied the justice department's plea for an arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes.

But in the same breath, Judge Andres Soriano upheld Duterte's order. He said that while evidence showed that Trillanes did apply for amnesty and also admitted his guilt, the President has the power to correct what he perceives to be an erroneous grant of amnesty to the senator.

The judge also said the proclamation never intended to invalidate Presidential Proclamation No. 75 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III, which granted Trillanes amnesty in 2011.

In his motion for partial reconsideration filed on Monday, a portion of which was released to the media only on Thursday, Trillanes said he would have agreed with Soriano’s findings with respect to the legality of the presidential issuance if PP 572 were only intended to be a mere declaration or proclamation of a state of fact as perceived by the Executive.

But the senator said that it was clear from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) own motion for partial reconsideration that the intent was really to use the proclamation not only to void the amnesty granted him but also to reverse the court’s final and completely executed order dismissing his coup d’ etat case.

“If there were any lingering doubts in the mind of the Honorable Presiding Judge before as to the intent of the Executive Department in issuing Proclamation No. 572... the motion for partial reconsideration filed by the Prosecution on 25 October 2018 clearly and unequivocally should finally sweep away and/or settle any such doubts,” Trillanes said.

In its motion, the DOJ argued that having ruled that PP 572 is valid, Makati RTC Branch 148, which handles the coup d'etat case against Trillanes for his role in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, should have presumed that the President had already determined that Trillanes did not comply with the requirements for applying for amnesty.

Trillanes also alleged that Duterte's proclamation violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection when it was used as basis for the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to try to arrest him at the Senate.

He also claimed that by ordering his arrest without a warrant and by arbitrarily voiding his amnesty, PP 572 was an exercise of judicial powers in violation of the principle of separation of powers.

Duterte later clarified this part of his order saying Trillanes would not be arrested without a court-issued warrant.

Trillanes also described PP 572 as “tantamount to an ex post facto issuance and/or a bill of attainder,” both prohibited under the Constitution.

An ex post facto law punishes an act that was legal when committed while a bill of attainder is a legislative act that declares a group of persons guilty and punishes them without trial.

Trillanes’ lawyers did not furnish reporters a copy of the discussion of their arguments. It is unclear how they applied the ex post facto law and bill of attainder arguments, which refer to acts of Congress, to a presidential issuance.

In addition, Trillanes said PP 572 violates the principle of immutability of final court decisions or rulings and the very definition and concept of amnesty.

In the same motion, Trillanes thanked Soriano for “giving him the full, fair and just opportunity to present his witnesses and evidence” and praised him for a “well-crafted ruling” on the factual issues of the case.

The hearing on the senators’ motion is set November 16 at 9 a.m.

Aside from Trillanes’ motion, Judge Soriano has yet to resolve the DOJ’s motion for partial reconsideration questioning his factual findings in the case.

Duterte's order that voided Trillanes' amnesty also revived a separate rebellion case against the senator for his role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered Trillanes' arrest on Sept. 25, and the senator made bail on the same day.