MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has called the grant of amnesty to Senator Antonio Trillanes “scripted” and insisted Presidential Proclamation 572 (PP572), which revoked it, is a corrective measure well within the control powers of the President.
The DOJ made these remarks in its comment/opposition which it filed before Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 on Monday, in response to the motion for partial reconsideration filed by the camp of Trillanes. The senator asked the court to declare PP572 unconstitutional.
Judge Andres Soriano of Makati Br. 148 dismissed the DOJ’s urgent motion to issue an arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes in connection with his 2003 coup d’etat case after finding that the senator applied for amnesty and admitted his guilt. But in the same order, he upheld the validity and legality of the presidential issuance.
PP75 HASTILY CRAFTED?
In its 6-page comment, the DOJ likened the grant of amnesty to Trillanes to the “whitewashing” done by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Aquino-Galman case.
The DOJ quoted a 1986 decision where Marcos supposedly ordered a “moro-moro” or sham trial against the accused in the Aquino-Galman case, as shown by a “make-believe raffle” of the case within 18 minutes from the filing of the criminal complaint with the Sandiganbayan in 1985.
“Now, as it was then, the grant of amnesty to accused Trillanes under Proclamation No. 75 was a heavily scripted process. Why? Recall again the hasty crafting of Proclamation No. 50 (sic) to forestall the first scheduled promulgation of judgment on October 12, 2010…Proclamation No. 75 was merely the second, a convenient device to avert a probable conviction scheduled for December 16, 2010.”
It is not clear from the DOJ’s comment how the factual circumstances of the two cases are similar.
The grant of amnesty to Trillanes being erroneous, the DOJ argued it was well within the control powers of the President to rectify an error committed by his subordinate.
“He made an executive determination that the conditions set forth in Proclamation No. 75, were not complied with by accused Trillanes. The President did so because the State cannot be estopped nor be held hostage by the misrepresentations of accused Trillanes. The erroneous application and enforcement of the law by public officers do not bar subsequent correct application by the State,” said the DOJ.
The DOJ also maintained the revocation of Trillanes’ amnesty did not require the concurrence of Congress.
“While Article VII, section 19 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President shall have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Congress, there is no provision requiring for the concurrence of the Congress in cases of revocation of the grant of amnesty. It is a settled rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, or consequence implies the exclusion of all others,” the DOJ said.
In its comment, the DOJ also insisted PP572 did not violate Trillanes’ rights to due process and equal protection because the DOJ and the court martial of the AFP were ordered to pursue criminal and administrative cases against him, and the AFP and PNP were ordered to use lawful means to arrest the senator.
Trillanes, the DOJ claimed, can be treated differently because he was the only one who did not comply with the requirements for amnesty.
“At the time of the issuance of Proclamation No. 572, he was the only grantee to have been found non-compliant with the conditions set forth in the amnesty grant.”
The DOJ also rejected Trillanes’ claim that PP572 is an ex post facto law and a bill of attainder because PP572 is not an act of the legislature but an executive act.
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.
The DOJ also said PP572 is not a usurpation of judicial power since it is still up to the judiciary to recognize that the basis for the 2011 dismissal of the case against Trillanes is not valid.
The DOJ also said Trillanes’ motion was filed beyond the 5-day period for filing a motion for reconsideration (MR) under the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases.
It insisted that the Makati RTC Branch 148’s order denying the DOJ’s motion was an interlocutory order and not a final order entitled to a longer period for filing an MR.
Trillanes had claimed that since the October 22 order of the court was a final order, the regular rules of procedure granting a party 15 days within which to file an MR should be followed.
A final order resolves a matter in its entirety or terminates a proceeding or action leaving nothing to be done except to enforce its execution, while an interlocutory order resolves a temporary or provisional issue.
Apart from Trillanes’ motion for partial reconsideration, the DOJ’s motion for partial reconsideration asking the court to reverse its factual findings is pending before Branch 148.
Makati City RTC Branch 150 has also yet to resolve Trillanes’ motion for reconsideration over its September ruling ordering Trillanes’ arrest in his rebellion case.
Trillanes’ petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of PP572 is also pending.